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Author of Wart Its Cause and Prevention 

And The Voice of the igth Century : 

a Woman's Echo 







S. S. 

in gratitude for constant encouragement, 
help and sympathy, 


in memory of 


and the task he laid upon me. 


















TO KNOW 164 









IN 1797 there lived at Montpellier, in the South 
of France, a young merchant, Louis Comte, who 
had lately had the good fortune to win a beautiful 
and loving hearted woman and to bring her home 
.is his wife. 

Rosalie Boyer, who had become Madame Comte 
before our narrative begins, was of a deeply religious 
nature, an ardent Catholic and Royalist. It was 
nine years after the fall of the Bastille and France 
was passing through a stage of re-action ; the bright 
lopes of the dawn of a new era for mankind had 
been dimmed by the outbreak of cruelty, torrents 
of blood had been shed as a result of the stimula- 
tion of the destructive instinct which so often takes 
place in times of excitement. 

The hopes of the Catholics and Royalists were 
high that the moment was at hand when the altar 
and the throne would be re-established. The year 
before De Maistre had made his famous prophecy 
that there would either be a wonderful resusitation 


of Christianity or that a new religion would appear. 
" We are approaching ", he said, " the greatest of 
religious epochs ". 

It may have been that echoes of this prophecy 
had reached Montpellier, that some of the preachers 
had tried to rouse the enthusiasm of their audiences 
and stimulate them to the work needed. Louis 
Comte, however, kind husband, honest merchant, 
and faithful Catholic, as he was, was no enthusiast; 
he was contented to do his work well and pray for 
the welfare of his Church and country, but the 
heart of Rosalie was a shrine where pure thoughts 
and earnest hopes were united and these were now 
concentrated on the child who was to be born; he 
would follow in the steps of the Catholic saints 
and help to restore the Church, and of the patriots 
who had redeemed their land from oppression. For 
Rosalie there could be no idea of a " new religion " ; 
for her there was, or could be, only one, the Holy 
Catholic Faith, and she had no doubt that her child 
would be a devout son of the Catholic Church. 

The old legends in which the mothers of redeemers 
or demigods had visions before their birth of the 
wonders their children were to perform may perhaps 
be explained by the effect upon the child of pre- 
natal conditions. In truth, the soul of the mother 
is as surely creating the soul of the child as her 
body is creating its body, and thus the earnest 
religious soul of Rosalie was reflected in her son 
although his opinions differed so widely from her 

Her son was born on the igth January, 1798. 


There is a picture at Rio de Janeiro in which she 
is shown presenting him before the Catholic altar 
and dedicating him as, it is said, in the old legend, 
Hannah did the prophet Samuel. This picture is 
an idealisation of the artist but we know she did 
dedicate him in her heart and she named him after 
three saints of the Catholic Church : Isidore 
Auguste Frangois Xavier, and after Mary the 
Mother of God. For nine years the child grew up 
by his mother's side, with a sister and brother who 
were born later, and under the care of the father, 
and these were the happiest years of Rosalie's life. 
With all her beloved ones around her she was able 
to spend herself in their service; this was, as her 
life and letters clearly shew, her highest idea of 

Isidore, as he was then called, or Auguste, as he 
is known to the world, was of an ardent affection- 
ate nature and between him and his mother there 
was a harmony of temperament. From her he learnt 
to worship the Virgin, the Saints, and the Trinity. 
With all a child's wondering veneration and un- 
questioning faith he knelt by her side and lavished 
upon that sweet and loving mother the treasure of 
his childish affection. Many years later, when a 
noble love had enlightened him as to the true values 
of life, he realised all that this early training had 
meant with its revelation of love and faith. 

And she, watching over her child and appreciat- 
ing his marvellous mental power, felt sure that her 
hopes for his future would be fulfilled, that he 
would be the chosen vessel who should raise the altar 


that had been cast down, and establish the throne 
in righteousness. 

The father and mother consulting together were 
almost terrified at the intellectual development of 
the boy. Not feeling able to deal with it themselves 
they sought a tutor who prepared him for the Lycee. 
This tutor was old, and Auguste, in his eager desire 
for learning, often arrived with his books in the 
morning before the old man was up. 

When Auguste was nine years old this happy time 
came to an end, it was decided that he should go 
as a boarder to the Lycee at Montpellier, and from 
that day he never again lived at home for any length 
of time. There is no written record of these nine 
years but the strength of the attachment between 
mother and son can be gathered from her letters 
and his later writings. He was her " well beloved ", 
her " adored son "; to think of him out of health 
and far from her was " heartbreaking " ; " must we 
be always separated ", she writes, " What a pain- 
ful existence!" And in his later writings Comte 
bitterly regrets that he was torn from her care so 
young. He had an extraordinary capacity for 
tenderness and this was now repressed and stunted 
until middle life. This repression, as is so often 
the case, re-acted disastrously on his conduct. The 
bad effect on his development was very present to 
him and in his ideal of the education of the future, 
the young boy is not to be sent away to conventual 
establishments, but to share in domestic life while 
his education is carried on. He was of course also 
separated from the rest of his family, from th 


control of his father (now appointed cashier at the 
tax office) and the pleasant companionship of sister 
and brother. It is doubtful whether his sister Alix 
would ever have helped him much in later life, for, 
such record as we have of her shews her as of a 
narrow outlook and quite lacking the tenderness of 
her mother Rosalie, but Adolphe, the youngest of 
the three, must have been of a noble nature, he 
describes in a letter, written to his brother when he 
was eighteen years of age, how he had been carried 
away by the idea of military glory, but, on com- 
paring the career of a soldier with that of a doctor, 
he says that " one makes the misery of men and 
the other succours the unhappy." Shortly after, 
Adolphe died, and more than twenty years later, 
Comte, in writing to John Stuart Mill, speaks of 
having unfortunately lost the brother on whom he 
counted for fraternal intercourse. 

Auguste went to the Lycee and although he had 
received only a few lessons from the old tutor he 
rapidly advanced in the school, distinguishing him- 
self in every subject. He was small, delicate 
and undersized, but of an extraordinary courage, 
both physical and moral. As a little boy at school 
his moral courage was shown when before the whole 
class he expressed his hopes that the Spaniards 
would be successful in expelling Bonaparte from 
their country, and later, his physical courage, by 
his heroic endurance of an operation for the removal 
of a tumour during which he neither moved nor 
uttered a sound. 

Before he was thirteen he had absorbed all the 


teaching which was given on the literary side in the 
schools of public instruction, and the Director per- 
suaded his father to let him begin mathematics. In 
this study he made such progress that at sixteen he 
gained one of the first places in the examinations 
for admission to the Polytechnic School of Paris, 
but could not be admitted for a year as he was too 

His mathematical master was Daniel Encontre, 
for whose method of teaching, and social and philo- 
sophic outlook, he had the deepest veneration, ex- 
pressed in the Dedication to his last work, " The 
Subjective Synthesis ". Encontre was delicate, and 
on one occasion when he was ill Auguste took his 
place and lectured with great success to his fellow 
students, standing on a chair to do so because of 
his short stature. 

Thrown as Comte was on his own resources, so 
young and with his keen and powerful intellect, it 
was inevitable that he should lose faith in the 
religion his mother had taught him, and he tells us 
that when he was thirteen he had given up all faith 
in any outside power, had lost his royalist sympathies 
and become an ardent republican. Unfortunately, 
with the beliefs, which he was sure to lose, was 
bound up much of the moral training he had received 
and this resulted in unregulated conduct on his part. 
Most docile in learning, revering those who taught 
him, and with a friendly fraternal feeling for his 
fellow pupils, he was very rebellious when tyranny 
was shown, and was constantly in trouble because 
of his outspoken opposition to the powers that be. 



His fellow pupils admired his great gifts and spoke 
of his prodigious memory; he could repeat a page 
which he had only read once. 

We are not told at what moment his mother 
realised that he had fallen away from the belief 
which contained for her the only salvation, he was 
so candid and open hearted that it could not long 
have been concealed from her. We know how she 
wept and prayed for him through all the years of 
her life, wept and prayed and loved with no less 
fervour than Monica for her son Saint Augustine, 
but her fate was less happy because when Monica 
lived Catholicism was the force which was moving 
the west and attracting the vigorous intellects of 
the day, but when Rosalie strove for her son its 
power was passing, the new religion was about to 
dawn on the world. This was sad for her, but, for 
her son the consequent loss of belief in the moral 
sanctions was for a time disastrous, and very nearly 
wrecked his life and work. 

Many youths were suffering from moral and 
mental scepticism, for the women were clinging to 
the old Catholic faith while the intellect of the time 
had cast it off and the mothers lost their hold on 
their sons at an early age. 

In October, 1814, when he was sixteen and a half, 
Comte went to the Polytechnic at Paris. This cele- 
brated school had been founded by the National 
Convention and was carried on in an ancient 
monastery not far from the Pantheon by the most 
learned men of France. The revolutionary spirit, 
which was its tradition, was still strong in the school 


in spite of the military discipline Bonaparte had 
instituted. Comte and his fellows strenuously 
opposed this military discipline, especially their 
being subjected to barrack life. The boy had already 
judged Bonaparte; it has been told how at ten 
years of age he objected to his aggression in Spain. 
Now he saw how by his constant wars he had estab- 
lished tyranny within the Empire and had arrayed 
all Europe against it without. Such was the judg- 
ment of Comte the boy and in later years he speaks 
of him as " the one who organised in the most 
disastrous way the worst political retrogression under 
which Humanity had ever sighed ". 

Owing, however, to the way in which the Allies 
had treated France after they had banished Bona- 
parte to Elba, he was welcomed as a deliverer when 
he escaped, and his promises of reform believed. 
Comte and the other scholars prayed to be allowed 
to help in freeing their country, and they were 
drilled and prepared for this purpose. Bonaparte 
had no chance of carrying out his promises, of 
showing whether the leopard had indeed changed 
his spots, for he was quickly overthrown and Louis 
XVIII installed. 

The Republican influence of the Polytechnic 
stimulated the philosophic and social direction 
Comte' s genius had already taken. Here he met 
many eminent men, and youths who later became 
eminent; Poinsot was his mathematical master and 
under him he made rapid progress. The youngest 
in the school, and still childish looking and delicate, 
his fellow students said of him that he had the mind 


of a mature man, they called him " The Thinker ". 
He learnt so quickly that he had plenty of time for 
private reading. He studied the republican institu- 
tions of Europe and America, he compared modern 
and ancient times, striving to see the law of develop- 
ment ; for, already the desire for universal regenera- 
tion was strong in Tiis soul, and his constructive 
genius was so vigorous that almost as soon as he had 
lost his belief in theology he strove to find the 
foundation of a new faith. 

From his earliest youth he had noticed that the 
belief in one God, which men had hoped would 
unite all, had resulted in dividing the Western 
world between two opposing monotheisms, while the 
truths of science were gradually uniting all. He 
concluded that the vague unreality of the theological 
beliefs could not unite men and his hope turned to 
science, for he felt that if the scientific method, 
which gained universal assent and led to rational 
prevision in the lower sciences, could be applied to 
social and political questions, uncertainty and 
revolution would be at an end. Therefore, he strove 
earnestly to prepare himself by continuous study. 

His career at the Polytechnic came to an abrupt 
end, for when on one occasion a master shewed 
disrespect to the pupils Comte wrote a letter to him, 
which all signed, requesting him to resign. The 
school was already " suspect " by the Government 
because of its republican sympathies, the opportunity 
was seized to close it for a time and the young Comte 
was sent back to Montpellier under police supervision. 

The distress and the disappointment of his parents 


can be imagined. The Government appointments 
were generally given to the pupils of the Polytechnic 
and Comte, as one of the ablest, would have stood 
a good chance of an excellent position. Now the 
prospect was lost and he was thrown back on his 
own resources. It was impossible for his parents 
to understand him or his aims. His passion for 
spiritual liberty, as a necessary condition of social 
regeneration, must have seemed mere rebellion to 
them and must have wrung the devout and sub- 
missive heart of Rosalie. This passion was shewn 
in his delight in the promised freedom of the Press 
in 1815 and, in the same year, when his friend 
Valat, still a pupil at the Lycee of Montpellier, told 
him as a joke that they were given tickets to go to 
confession he answered finely that, far from making 
him laugh, it filled him with indignation : 

"Poor France!" he cries, "unhappy friends 
of Liberty. The noble efforts you made, at 
the peril of your lives to give your fellow citizens 
the possession of their rights are rendered use- 
less and perhaps you will die the victims of 
your devotion to the cause of reason and 
Humanity " ! 

It is thus that the boy of seventeen writes to his 
schoolmate. We owe it to the faithful friendship 
of these two boys, whose correspondence was con- 
tinued through many years, that much of the life 
of Comte is known to us. 

He remained at home for a few months attending 
the lectures at the celebrated medical school of 



Montpellier. Once more Rosalie had this beloved 
son beneath her roof and this would have been 
happiness to her but it was dimmed by the fact that 
their outlook on life was different. 

He was bent on returning to Paris for he was 
already convinced of his mission. The suffering of 
the people and the disorder of society had touched 
his heart, he saw the need for reorganisation and 
felt that he must help in this supreme work. Paris 
was the centre of thought, there he could find the 
books he must study and could associate with the 
men who could inspire and help him. He must be 
about Humanity's business, the sorrowing of his 
parents could not hold him back. They did sorrow, 
his father only saw that he wanted to go penniless 
to Paris and would be an expense to him, his 
mother felt that she would lose him, and also 
dreaded the temptations of Paris for one of his 
ardent temperament. All three had formed a correct 
judgment. Auguste was often an expense to his 
father and never, even in the best of times, made 
much more than a bare subsistence; his life and work 
did lead him far away from his mother's hopes, and 
the result of the temptations of Paris nearly wrecked 
his career, but he did discover and put before the 
world the regenerating doctrine, and is widely 
recognised to-day as one of the greatest of the sons 
of men. 



A RRIVED in Paris, Comte began the concen- 
JLJL trated study and meditation which was neces- 
sary to attain the results he expected. Poinsot, the 
eminent geometer, had by no means forgotten his 
brilliant pupil and helped him to find work in teach- 
ing mathematics, which enabled him to live. Just 
to live was all he cared for, every moment that could 
be spared from the necessary lessons was given to 
study and meditation. Hour after hour he would 
remain plunged in thought sometimes prolonged 
through the night. On one occasion, during the 
conception of the " Philosophy ", his thought was 
maintained for eighty hours. This youth, not yet 
twenty, recalls the legend of the Buddha under the 
banyan tree, when he also was meditating how to 
regenerate the life of man. 

He saw how the luminous ideas which had in- 
spired the French revolution had apparently passed 
away, and how its later phases, and the wars of the 
Empire, had alienated Europe and turned men back 
to retrograde beliefs. 



He carefully studied the writers of the i8th 
century ; Fontenelle who helped him to his discovery 
of relativity, Maupertuis whose works on the pro- 
gress of science and origin of language were of 
deep interest, Montesquieu whose conception of law 
and a social organism approached very near to his 
own, Adam Smith whose masterly use of the historic 
method in his enquiries into economic and moral 
questions won his admiration, Freret who used the 
scientific method in his historic research, Duclos, 
the witty writer, whose observations on character 
are material for positive morals, and who defines 
virtue as " an effort over self in favour of others ". 
Turgot, who vaguely foresaw the " Law of the 
Three Stages " and whose wise administration and 
enlightened philanthropy almost prevented the 
Revolution, Diderot, the encyclopedic thinker who, 
had the time been ripe, might have been the founder 
of the Positive Philosophy, and Hume who was 
indeed largely its founder. 

Comte also studied De Maistre, whose work on 
the Pope enabled him to avoid the error of the 
eighteenth century thinkers and to appreciate the 
Middle Ages. 

Had he needed more inspiration he would have 
found it in the condition of Paris at this time. In 
a letter to Valat he speaks of the misery of the 
people who were starving, and with indignation of 
the luxurious life of others, the dances, the extrava- 
gance and the ostentation. How greatly the social 
regeneration was needed ! 

He " plunged in thought again " and soon made 


his first important discovery. The space in which 
we see abstract forms and which had been considered 
the most distant objective existence, was not objective 
at all, but subjective, created by the mind of man. 
This conception, which Condorcet had not reached 
but which Kant had foreshadowed, was intimately 
connected with his second discovery of relativity. 

[The statement of this truth: " Tout est relatif; 
Viola la seule chose absolue " is found in a publica- 
tion called " L'Industrie ", which appeared at the 
end of September, 1817, and marked the complete 
revolution in the human outlook : the absolute truth 
was no more to be looked for, all had to be con- 
sidered in relation to time and place. This was a 
necessary condition of bringing scientific observation 
to bear on history and was the preparation for the 
science of sociology of which Comte was to become 
the founder. The important work of Einstein, a 
hundred years later, was an illustration in science 
of this philosophic truth. Comte had pointed out 
that the "Law of gravitation" might be superseded 
by further knowledge. Yet how slow the world has 
been in comprehending all the bearings of Comte's 
discovery.] r 

vAbout this time! Comte came into contact with 
St. Simon in whom he thought he had found the 
successor of the i8th century thinkers and, won by 
the charm and apparent sincerity of this popular 
idol, he devoted himself to him with enthusiastic 
veneration. It was an unfortunate acquaintance, 
for it drew his attention away, for a time, from the 
construction of positive philosophy to political 



action, it led him into premature writing and, for 
the moment, stimulated the desire of immediate 
fame and prosperity N 

Comte has himself^ selected from his writings of 
this period the sentences which were of permanent 
value. One was the truth quoted above; another : 
" The liberty of the press gives a consultative 
authority to all citizens ". This connection with 
St. Simon could not last long for the disciple was 
so much greater than the master that, as his thought 
developed, he found out the fallacies and shallow- 
ness of the man he had regarded as a great thinker. 
The reputation of St. Simon gradually declined while 
that of Comte became one of the 

" Immortal lights 
That rise up slowly in the sky 
And shine there everlastingly.'*/ 

By 1824 all connection between them had ceased. 
At this period of Comte's life, his neglect of his 
mother is much to be regretted, she was wearing her 
heart out in anxiety for him at Montpellier. He 
wrote seldom and in the letters from home there is 
a constant cry for more frequent news. The father 
tells him how his mother, suffering from nervous 
fever, recovered at once on receiving a letter from 
him, and she speaks of her suffering while waiting 
for letters. Probably the cause was not only his 
concentration on his work but the difficulty of telling 
her of his life; the work that absorbed him, had she 
understood it, would have filled her with grief, and 
in his private life, as we shall see presently, he 
knew he was neglecting the precepts of bis childhood. 



How could he write to her of these things ! They 
had no mutual acquaintances about whom he could 
have told her details; it was not possible for his 
sincere nature to make anything up. The utmost 
he could do was to conceal, and his letters to Valat 
shew his anxiety that his parents shall not hear things 
that would hurt them, such as his relationship with 
St. Simon. Like so many men in early youth he 
was not fully alive to the meaning of a mother's 
love and suffering, and in his lonely life there were 
none of the daily acts of kindness which develop 
tenderness and consideration for others. 

But his absorption in the social purpose of his 
life never failed, and in 1818, in a letter to Valat, 
speaking of standing armies, he says : 

" The thorough examination that I have so far 
been able to give to politics has convinced me 
that this institution is, to-day, the only obstacle 
to social organisation from whatever point of 
view it be regarded." 

He points out that a standing army is not suitable 
for defence, and instances the wars in America, 
Spain, Germany and France, which were all 
won by the armed citizens under the names of 
Guerillas, Landwehr, Landsturm and Carmagnoles. 
The perpetual peace proposed by Henri IV and Sully 
cannot be brought about by kings, for " Royalty ", 
he says, " has been from the beginning an essenti- 
ally military affair ", and even in England has 
lost it very incompletely; for peace to come about, 
the people must have a voice in the State. 



In 1819 there are expressions of the deep social 
feeling by which he was inspired and of the clear 
thought which he brought to bear upon social life. 
Valat had written that he wished to live in the 
country, Comte answers that he also hoped some 
day to do so and, if he consulted his own taste 
only, should agree -with him entirely, but he asks 
whether there was not some selfishness in the thought 
and points out that to live for men is also necessary 
for happiness. He writes : 

<c My friend, this hard-working open-hearted and 
worthy class of men that we both love is op- 
pressed, it is basely robbed by its superiors who 
nevertheless profit entirely by the fruit of its 
labours. That it may no longer minister to the 
infamous luxury and base idleness of its 
masters, that the social order organised to-day 
for the benefit of useless people may become 
organised for the useful, there my friend is a 
duty for us, for us who have come from the 
oppressed classes and may by our education 
and our gifts do something to bring about this 
great change. A number of capable men, 
allowing themselves to be led away by the 
temptations of wealth and power, place them- 
selves under the banner of the oppressors, others, 
more honest, who will not do this, are yet con- 
tent to be peaceable spectators of the struggle. 
But who then will be on the side of the weak ? 
You my friend you will join, we will join, a 
small number of enlightened men who will 
B 17 


work openly to free the many from the tyranny 
and pillage of the few, you will not be content 
to be neutral you will give your help to the 
general cause. In times less fortunate than ours 
those who had clearly seen the sad lot of the 
working classes might limit themselves to de- 
clining to share the plunder, being persuaded 
of the impossibility of making the slightest 
effort for the workers against the idle, but to- 
day it is not so, thanks to the progress of 
knowledge and of civilisation that which was 
formerly but a dream can begin to be realised, 
war, luxury, poverty, legal and organised 
plunder can disappear gradually. It is possible 
by gentle and easy methods to establish peace 
firmly and to bring comfort to the mass of the 
people ". 

In an essay " The Separation of Opinions and 
Aspirations " he points out that the mass of the 
people have the aspirations, they know the need and 
must say what they would have, it is for the rulers 
to carry out their wishes. But between the two there 
must be the skilled men who will say how this is to 
be done. Special knowledge and skill is needed here 
even more than in physical, chemical, or medical 
sciences where the need of skilled men is considered 

These men would form the Spiritual Power, which 
he wanted to see established, with philosophic outlook 
above the specialist men of science of whatever 
department of knowledge. 



It has been said, by many who were deeply inter- 
ested in Comte's method of dealing with science 
but had no wish to see it carried on to the reorgani- 
sation of society, that the latter part of his life and 
work were out of harmony with the earlier part, but 
his earliest inspiration was concerned with the re- 
organisation of lif and the replacing of the old 
by the new Spiritual Power, in fact his first idea 
was that this could be brought about directly, 
was only after further consideration that he saw 
that the whole knowledge of the past must be under- 
stood and science carried into social matters before 
this could be accomplished; his devoted labours 
of more than twelve years were deliberately under- 
taken as foundation for the supreme task of his life. 

In 1820 he wrote the essay, " A Brief Estimate 
of Modern History ", in which he traced the 
double movement, the gradual decline of the 
theologico-military system and the growth of the 
positive or pacific-industrial state. He also shewed 
the contrast between France and England as the 
central or local power prevailed. 

The appointment of Poinsot, as a member of the 
Committee of Instruction, gave Comte hope that he 
would get some public post as teacher of mathematics 
which would make his livelihood less precarious. 
Whilst preparing himself for the scientific work he 
hoped to do he attended a course of lectures on 
astronomy by Delambre. They were mutually 
attracted and the old man took the youth to his 
home to continue his instruction. 


In 1822, when he was in his 25th year, Comte 
wrote the essay, " Plan of the Scientific Operations 
Necessary for Re-organising Society ", which was 
a remarkable forecast of the whole of his life's 
work and shews an almost incredible width of view 
and intellectual power in so young a man. 

Only in two points it did not attain the reality 
and completeness of his mature work; he had not 
yet disentangled the science of morals from socio- 
logy, and he attributed to intellectual energy the 
advance which further experience convinced him was 
the result of social feeling. 

The heads of this essay will show the task he 
had marked out for himself. 

In the introduction he reviews the condition of 
modern society, shewing the mistakes that kings 
(or rulers) and the people had made in attempting 
to end the Revolution; the rulers trying to restore 
the past order, and the people depending on the 
critical or destructive method, he points out that 
the only escape from these mistakes will be found 
in the formation of an organic doctrine which will 
convince both : 

" The destination of society, now come to 
maturity, is neither to inhabit for ever the old 
and miserable hut which its infancy erected, 
as kings suppose, nor to live eternally without 
shelter after having left it, as the people 
imagined. Its destiny is rather this, that, 
aided by acquired experience, it should with 
all the accumulated materials, construct an 


edifice fitted for its needs and enjoyment. Such 
is the noble enterprise reserved for the present 
generation ". 

The re-organisation of society requires two parts : 
the theoretical, or spiritual, aims at developing the 
plan, the practical, or temporal, develops the means. 
The plan necessarily comes first. Modern society, 
as opposed to ancient, is industrial rather than 
military, but, because this aim has never been clearly 
expressed, our action is confused between the two, 
and certainly is not definitely pointed to the 
industrial. The division between the Spiritual 
and the Temporal Power is then necessary. The 
decline of Catholicism must not destroy this : 

" It is evident that it ought to be preserved with 
all the other conquests made by the human 
mind under the influence of the old regime, 
and which cannot perish with it ". 

The Spiritual Power must be formed from men 
of science who will in this way unite Europe by 
offering to all a share in the re-organisation. They 
must raise politics into a science. By the nature of 
the human mind every branch of our knowledge 
must pass through three stages : fictitious, abstract 
and positive. 

This is the celebrated "Law of the Three Stages' 1 , 
the law of mental evolution by which Comte founded 
social dynamics and made the scientific study of 
history possible. This law he discovered one morn- 
ing after a night of profound meditation. His 
hierarchy of the sciences follows the law of the three 


stages, for man's conceptions pass through the three 
stages in the order of their complication, the simplest 
first on which the others rest, thus the examination 
of the period in which each science became positive 
or scientific gives it its place in the scale : mathe- 
matics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, 
sociology. Before sociology could be founded it 
was necessary that the simpler sciences should have 
reached that stage. This condition was now fulfilled, 
for " politics ", he says, " have passed through the 
two first stages and are now ready for the third Jl . 
The divine right of kings was the theological, and 
the sovereignty of the people the metaphysical stage. 
The social state is the consequence of man's organi- 
sation and position in the scale of animals. It is not 
capable of explanation but its first object is to 
develop the tendency of man to act on the earth for 
his own advantage. To understand it, each epoch 
of the past must be examined to see how far advance 
towards perfection was possible in that time and 

He called upon the learned men of Europe to 
devote themselves to the unification of knowledge 
and its dedication to social re-organisation, first 
to form a system of historic observations on the 
advance of the human mind, then to institute positive 
education so that the agents might be duly pre- 
pared, and, finally, to show the collective effect man 
could have on his surroundings. Politics can only 
become a science when it is recognised that social 
organisation depends on the civilisation of the time 
and that civilisation is subject to law. It is not 



enough to examine the present; the philosophic 
order is past, future, present, for, from the past, 
the future is deduced and then the action in the 
present can be wisely undertaken. 

The thinkers are to make plans, the artists to 
idealise and incline men's minds to them, and the 
practical men to carry them out. 

All positive science has foresight as its aim, and 
observation of the past will unveil the future in 
oolitics as it has in physics, chemistry and physio- 
fogy* thus violent perturbations and revolutions 
will be avoided. He then reviews the attempts of 
his predecessors giving honour to Montesquieu, 
Condorcet and Cabanis; Condorcet he claims as his 
spiritual father. 

This essay made Comte famous among the learned 
men of France and even in other countries. No one 
seems to have been sufficiently advanced to observe 
the error in reasoning which he was destined to 
correct in later years. 

And yet, while he was describing the intellect as 
the driving force, he was himself an instance of the 
supreme force of feeling. It was his social feeling, 
his intense desire to help mankind, which was im- 
pelling him as we see by his own words to Tabarie 
at this time. He tells this friend that his family 
have heard of his success and are rejoicing that now 
he will become rich and famous, but he knows 
better, the work to which he has dedicated his life 
is more likely to lead to persecution, fame it may 
bring indeed but never daily bread. It is true that 
social feeling without his power of intellect would 



have been insufficient, but, without the social feeling, 
how soon personal desires, the persuasions of his 
friends and, later, a more intimate persecution to 
which he was to be subjected, would have led him 
to give his intellectual powers to work which would 
have given him immediate fame and put him at the 
head of the men of intellect of his day. 

Since his time an enormous amount of material 
has been accumulated for social science but the 
thinkers of Europe have not yet responded to his 
call, though it rang in their ears a hundred years 
ago. He pointed out that the University in France 
in his time was quite incapable of conducting this 
synthetic change; its professors were specialists and 
literary men. 

Our own English universities are to-day at about 
the same stage. Oxford, indeed, still attempts a 
synthesis, but it is by keeping to the old theological 
interpretations. The universities in our industrial 
centres are little more than superior technical schools 
carrying on useful special research in an admirable 
manner but making little attempt to unite their teach- 
ing into a whole, each subject remaining as almost 
a watertight compartment, the professors often 
knowing little of one another, and the Head chosen, 
no doubt for some good reason, but not for his 
power of shewing the connecting links in all human 
knowledge and inspiring the students to social re- 
organisation, while the classes on sociology consist 
of special preparation of young people for practical 
work on sanitation and kindred subjects, usefuP 
enough but representing sociology much as a practi- 



cal course in chiropody would represent the science 
of physiology. 

Comte wrote two other important essays, one: 
".Philosophical Considerations on the Sciences and 
Men of Science", in 1825; the other, " Considera- 
tions on the Spiritual Power ", in 1826. 

But all this time he was preparing his masterpiece 
the " Positive Philosophy f> which was to be the 
foundation of his life's work.'. 

He held it all in his mind, thi work which was to 
take him twelve years to write, the review of all 
the abstract scientific knowledge that mankind had 
attained. Before writing it he decided to give it 
in seventy-two lectures that he might see what effect 
it would have on the auditors. He announced these 
lectures to be held in his house. Men of eminence 
attended, and when the young Comte saw the 
audience he was greatly moved and for a moment 
could not speak. Then, inspired by his subject, 
he gave the lecture and was listened to with admiring 
and respectful attention. 

Two more of the lectures were given with equal 
success but when the audience appeared for the 
fourth there was no lecturer; he was ill, it was 
said, and the audience retired. 

Alas ! the moment of his triumph was the moment 
of his calamity and downfall. 





<i / f 

of the individO M/rfVfw 

\ O\ 

( * 

ual, or J instinct. 

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C cr^ 

Instincts of 


i O rt 






o c^rt 


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w 1 







Instincts of 

by destruction \military 
or . . j instinct 









by construe- \industrial 
tion, or ..../ instinct. 





LJ _ 


AIIBITIOM / Tem P ral . or Pride desire of P w ... 6 
, AMBITION | Spiritualj or VanitVj dcsire of approbation 7 


w 3 



h C 












3- *? 






BRNEVOLRNCE, or Universal Love (sympathy) 



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a rt 2 









r f 

/Concrete, or relative to 


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g rf 

Passive or con 
hence objcc 

Beings, essentially 




; Abstract, or relative to' 

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tive material | Events, essentially 


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3 H 


V. analytical 

o'a * 



3 8 

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Active, or Medi 

Inductive, or by com- 
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tation, henc 

i Generalisation .... 

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subjective con 

Deductive, or by co- 


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ordination, hence 




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p 0* 



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SION.., Mimic, oral, written, hence Communicationi 5. 

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EL mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi retrovai 
per una silva oscura, che la diritta via era 
smarrita " Inf. Canto I. 

The moment of his triumph was the moment of 
his downfall. To realise how this came about his 
character and surrounding must be clearly under- 
stood with the actions and events which led to his 
sad tragedy. At the head of this chapter is his 
own " Psycho-analysis " or " Table of the Soul ". 
It is abstract and sums up the desires, intellectual 
powers, and character of all normal human beings 
and of the higher animals; the differences of 
individuals being due to the different proportions 
of these desires and powers in each case and of the 
situations in which men are found. All of these 
desires, personal and social, were strong in Comte, 
the weakest in proportion was the desire of self- 
preservation, usually the strongest of all. The 
instincts of race preservation and of improvement 
were very marked especially the constructive instinct 
which has probably never been surpassed in its 
intensity in any other human being. The desire 
of approbation was also strong, it was for the 
approbation of the leading thinkers of his own 
time and of the future. 

All the three social instincts were strong, attach- 
ment the least so, to persist with him it seemed to 
require a mixture of veneration. Veneration was 
indeed developed to a remarkable degree and, 
united to his constructive genius, enabled him to 
gather the past into one harmonious whole, giving 
to each portion due recognition and honour; it 
enabled him to avoid the error of the greatest 



eighteenth century thinkers who in their admiration 
for classical times so misconceived the middle ages 
as to call them dark. With regard to the noblest 
instinct of all, that of benevolence, sympathy, or 
Humanity, we shall see that his whole life was in- 
spired by his devotion to the future of the race. His 
mental gifts were of the highest order. Where, 
indeed, have we seen such powers of observation, 
generalisation and deduction ? As to the three 
practical qualities, courage, prudence and persever- 
ance, his courage has already been noticed, his 
perseverance was almost superhuman as is shown by 
the work he accomplished in spite of the difficulties 
by which he was surrounded. In the third practical 
quality of prudence he was deficient and his ardent 
feeling and generous impulses, sustained by his 
fearless courage, led him into actions which caused 
some of the worst trials of his life. 

Like Dante he had to pass through a dark and 
dismal wood, and like the Red Cross Knight he 
was not only susceptible to Una, the true love, who 
leads to Paradise, but also to the wiles of Duessa, 
the false love, who may drag the soul to the 
Inferno. When, between thirteen and fourteen years 
of age, he gave up his belief in the teaching of his 
mother an ideal feeling for a young woman some 
years older than himself came to protect him for a 
short time. She had a kindly affection for him, 
played to him on the harp, and together they went 
to listen to beautiful music and had much friendly 
intercourse. She probably had no idea of the 
romantic feeling of the boy, but for him this friend- 



ship held for the moment all that was beautiful and 
ennobling, and to the end of his life it remained 
the first touch of true love. It lasted a very short 
time, for she married and he was destined to pass 
thirty years of his life before he was again blessed 
by that higher feeling. For thirty years he passed 
under the sway of Duessa; for, unfortunately, soon 
after this incident he came to the conclusion that he 
was without beauty or charm, and that no good 
woman could ever love him. This was in itself a 
proof of the high ideal he had of women, he did 
not feel worthy of a true woman's love. Also he 
passed through the revolutionary stage with great 
completeness and he tells us later that this was 
necessary for the work he had to do. He had to 
put off the old garments before he could put on the 
new, but the result was a time of moral nudity. 

Yet, he was continually finding food for his 
chivalric feeling. His moral scepticism was only 
skin deep, beneath it the ascetic and saint were 
striving to assert themselves, and he was called in 
his later life " morality intoxicated ". Even at the 
Lycee the disorder had begun among the boys, as 
we gather from his letters to Valat, and in Paris 
the conditions were much worse. 

We can hardly form any idea in England of the 
condition of Paris at that time, for the Catholic 
religion disappeared much more gradually in 
England, and later the Puritan movement had 
much effect, at any rate on opinion and expression. 
But Paris, where the great hope of the Revolution 
had been born, and whence the regeneration was 



to come through this poor boy who went alone to 
brave its dangers, was at that time the centre of 

Ignorant as she was of so much of the worst evil, 
his mother Rosalie, vaguely felt the danger. 

When he returned to Paris from Montpellier after 
his expulsion from the Polytechnic his concentration 
on his work was intense, he was entirely alone, 
Poinsot found him pupils but does not seem to have 
given him any social intercourse. No kindly woman 
noticed, with motherly eye, the young student 
solitary and uncared for. He had a loving heart 
and pined for some tenderness but alas, went to 
seek it among those unhappy girls whose sacrificed 
lives are the most painful blot on modern civilisa- 
tion. In his letters to his friend Valat he speaks 
of these things openly and without remorse or com- 

It may seem strange that one, who was avowedly 
working for the regeneration of the human race, 
should not have felt the incongruity of his action, 
but it must be remembered that of the three conver- 
sions which a modern writer has said every soul must 
undergo, namely the conversion to truth, to beauty, 
and to goodness, Auguste had SQ far only ex- 
perienced the conversion to truth. True, as a child 
at his mother's side, he had spontaneously loved 
goodness and, during his foretaste of love, he had 
loved beauty, but the full conversion had not come. 
He was the apostle of truth, all things were to be 
based on reality, a firm foundation for the religion 
of the future. This was the task he was called upon 



to perform, and he was so occupied with the founda- 
tion that he did not look up to the superstructure. 

Still, he was not satisfied with himself and when 
he was eighteen he told Valat that he had read the 
life of Benjamin Franklin and been much impressed 
by it, it had made him decide to try and give up 
these undesirable visits and he says he felt better 
and happier as they might have proved disastrous 
to him. But he fell back again before long. Indeed, 
in his latter years he tells us that the fear of personal 
harm is not a sufficient deterrent from indulgence, 
a higher motive is necessary. 

When he was between nineteen and twenty, he 
told Valat he had made the acquaintance of a young 
married lady; she was charming, highly educated, 
a fine musician, she played to him, taught him 
Italian, while he gave her some other lesson. He 
was astonished and very grateful when he found 
that she loved him. This intercourse was pleasant 
to him compared with anything that had gone before, 
but again there is no compunction towards the 
husband, no mention of him, but many beautiful 
traits of chivalric feeling are shewn by the young 
Comte. He speaks of her putting up with privations 
" with an angelic patience, a charm, a gaiety, a 
grace, a delicacy of which ordinary women are 
incapable, but which I also believe examples can 
only be found in this delightful half of the human 
race which, taken altogether, is worth infinitely 
more than the other ". 

When a child was born he " accepted the pater- 
nity " and then this youth of twenty felt all the 


wonder of fatherhood and lavished on this little 
girl the treasure of his affection. His feeling for 
the mother cooled but he would not forsake " the 
mother of his child ", and he burst out into a strong 
expression of how much woman has to bear from 
man and resolves that as much as possible he will 
make this up in his own case. This feeling was 
preparing his heart for the generous but fatal mistake 
which afterwards so nearly wrecked his life. The 
child, the little Louise, occupied much of his 
thought, he was perturbed when she was ill, he did 
all that was possible under the circumstances to 
guard and help her, he paid for a sojourn in the 
country and Rejoiced -when this had the desired 
effect on her health. 

His companionship with the mother ceased but 
he never lost sight of the child until her death at 
nine years of age, and to the end of his life 
cherished her memory. During this period, in 
writing to Valat of their friendship, he says : 

" Sweet and tender affections are the happiest, 
the only source of true well-being that can be 
attained on this unhappy planet, and it is not 
possible to have too much of them. Love, 
fatherhood, far from injuring or being dimin- 
ished by friendship, unite themselves perfectly 
with it. These are things which go very well 
together ". 

After this connection was broken off Comte's 
letters to Valat shew how he longs for friendship 
and companionship, if only his friend could be 



near him how happy he would be ! and, indeed, 
it is more than probable that the presence of an 
intimate and trusted friend would have saved him 
from the unhappy fate which lay before him. He 
had sought distraction again as of old, for the 
strain of his work on his brain must have been very 
great in his isolation and loneliness, and in May, 
1821, he met a young woman who though only 
nineteen had long lived a life of disorder. She took 
him home with her and this unhappy acquaintance- 
ship began. Caroline Massin was a beautiful girl, 
quick and clever, she was the illegitimate daughter 
of an actress who had handed her over to a young 
barrister when she was almost a child, he had long 
abandoned her, and she had fallen so low that her 
name had been inscribed for two years in a terrible 
register, by which vice was practically legalised and 
its unfortunate victims bound to continue their evil 
life, and to report themselves regularly. 

Modern womanhood has arisen and protested 
against such legal action but apparently there was 
no help forthcoming for these unfortunate ones at 
that time in Paris, probably the whole evil was 
unknown to the more reputable inhabitants as it 
certainly was to the tender Rosalie in the compara- 
tively simple and innocent surroundings of Mont- 

Comte was struck by the beauty and intelligence 
of this girl and they met often. She quickly per- 
ceived his simple generosity and from the first 
suggested marriage, affecting to joke about it, but 
in the November of that year the barrister who had 

c 33 


abandoned her returned and she disappeared. 
Unfortunately, a year later, Comte met her again. 
Her intelligence was great and Comte gave her 
lessons in algebra and she induced him to let them 
live together. He felt that this would be a steadier 
life for him and he consented making it, however, 
quite clear it was only a temporary arrangement. 
She made him happy, entering into his intellectual 
work with astonishing understanding, but she was 
constantly returning to the subject of marriage. 

The time was approaching when Comte was to 
give his lectures, he felt the necessity of a more 
reputable surrounding, he still thought himself in- 
capable of winning the love of a good woman, and 
his heart was touched by the unfortunate fate which 
must lie before Caroline if he forsook her; he 
hesitated, and at that moment when they were in 
a cafe, an officer of the police beckoned her out 
of the room, she had failed to report herself and 
had laid herself open to punishment. The officer 
told her the next day that nothing but marriage 
could take her name off the register. 

Knowing her, as later events showed her, it is 
almost impossible not to suspect that this was a 
ruse, she knew the heart of Comte, its generosity, 
and his fearless contempt of convention. Be that 
as it may, he could resist no longer, he could not 
send the woman who had been his bright intelli- 
gent companion back to a life of infamy. He 
consented to the marriage, and having consented 
carried it out with his usual ardour asking for his 
parents' consent, a necessity in France. They 



refused it, for, although they knew nothing of 
Caroline's career, they heard that she had lived 
with their son some months before marriage. The 
unwisdom of the marriage altogether affected the 
father a penniless girl, with nothing to recom- 
mend her, to a penniless man ! but, to Rosalie, 
the thought that the* wife of her beloved son would 
be impure was indeed terrible. He thought their 
opposition narrow and heartless and would have 
obtained an order, which made their consent com- 
pulsory, but when they realised that it was useless 
they withdrew their opposition. 

The marriage took place, the officer of police 
attended and took the name off the register, and, 
that the past might be unknown, one of the 
witnesses was the barrister Circlet connected with 
Caroline's past. One solemn promise Comte ex- 
acted from Caroline, it was that she should never 
again have any communication with Circlet by 
interview or letter. This promise she gave. 

Comte thought he had secured a companion who 
would be bound to him always by gratitude. It 
has been contended that he loved her, but he himself 
tells us that he committed this chief error of his 
life without love, and we need no other evidence 
of this than his looking for gratitude, for love 
knows itself the debtor and does not seek, but feels 

His hope was soon dimmed, he took his wife to 
Montpellier to introduce her to his parents and 
friends who were astonished at her beauty, intelli- 
gence and fine manners. She was a Parisienne with 



all the " savoir faire " of a Parisienne. Had love 
or gratitude had any place in her heart she would 
have been delighted to meet her husband's people 
and to win the love of his mother, but she found 
the simple life of Montpellier intolerably dull. They 
only stayed a fortnight and Comte returned, per- 
turbed and anxious. On which side did the fault 
lie ? 

He evidently felt pretty sure. The ready wit 
and good manners which had been admired at 
Montpellier were a poor foundation for a peaceful 
domestic life. He had dreamed that they should 
go to live at Montpellier and be surrounded by 
friends, and he would once again be near those he 
loved. For necessary as Paris had been at the 
beginning of his career, and for the preparation of 
his work, it was so no longer. The work was all 
prepared in his brain and needed only a quiet 
harmonious surrounding to enable him to put it 
before the world in the shortest possible time. 

He realised however that they must live in Paris 
where his wife would be. The one thing that 
mattered was the completion of his task, and to 
this he turned with his accustomed energy. It 
had to be continued without the peaceful surround- 
ing he had hoped to secure by his marriage. 
His domestic life was a stormy one. Madame 
Comte was not only without the feeling of con- 
tented gratitude he had expected to find in her, 
but, having gained her point, she felt contempt 
for that which she considered his weakness ; 
she begun to think she could rule him com- 



pletely. Quick and astute as she was to see 
the intellectual powers which would enable him to 
win for her a distinguished position in the world, 
it was impossible for her to understand the great- 
ness of his heart or his intense determination. His 
marriage had been the result of the thoroughness 
with which he carried out his opinions to their logical 

Scnhor Mendes, one of his most devoted followers, 
has well pointed out that in times of anarchy it is 
the noble souls who suffer most from the disorder, 
just because they are less under the control of custom 
and are prepared to do what others only profess. 
How many a less noble and generous soul must have 
been faced with the same problem as Auguste Comte 
but did not try to save and protect his comrade ! 

Remembering her upbringing, Comte bore with 
his wife and tried to excuse her but she was not 
only lacking in purity and faithfulness she also 
seems to have been devoid of tenderness or delicacy 
of feeling. Slowly the realisation of this dawned 
on Comte. However, she was often a pleasant, 
intelligent, and helpful companion, and he had 
married with the full intention of attaching himself 
completely to her. During that first year his times 
of misery were frequent and heart-rending. He 
began to feel that the only refuge for him was 
indifference, and that he dreaded; indeed, to one 
of his temperament, indifference to the one being 
with whom he was in intimate connection was im- 
possible. At last, after a year of marriage, she 
proposed to him that Cerclet should be allowed to 



visit them regardless of her solemn promise, and on 
Comte's refusal left his roof for a time. 

The shock to him was intense. It was practically 
a proposal that he, who had striven to save her from 
a life of dishonour, should share in the price of his 
own dishonour. The shock came just at the moment 
when the strain of his work was at its highest, and 
when the recognition of his claims by some of the 
most eminent men of his time had produced an 
exaltation and hope which he had not before ex- 
perienced. It seemed that the realisation of his 
highest hopes was at hand and, at this moment, 
she, to whom he had given the shelter of his home, 
the friend in whom he trusted, believed that he could 
pass over the breaking of a solemn promise and 
offered to him the most degrading position that it 
is possible for a man to occupy, and how deeply 
his heart was wounded. She preferred the man who 
had left her to misery and shame and forgot him 
who had placed her at his right hand. What wonder 
that a paroxysm of rage took possession of him. 
The course of lectures, which was already bringing 
him into fame was interrupted and, filled with 
passion and indignation, he rushed to his friend 
Lammenais, and threw himself at his feet and, under 
the seal of confession, told him the story of his 
marriage and its results, hoping thus to relieve the 
fearful pressure on his brain. It was not enough, 
he could not go home again, and later was found 
at Montmorency where Madame, accompanied by 
Cerclet, and summoning Blainville the eminent 
physician to her aid, went to find him. That she 



should have taken Cerclet with her shows an almost 
incredible coarseness and lack of feeling. 

Blainville found him in a state of over mental 
excitement, bordering on alienation, but mania at 
that time had not set in. He advised Madame Comte 
to take him home and give him complete rest and 
quiet, he told her that to take him to an asylum 
would probably excite him and make him worse. 
She refused unless Blainville would undertake to 
stay with her. He could not do this and so Comte 
was taken to the private asylum of M. Esquirol. 
They told him he was to be taken home and there 
is every indication that he might even then have been 
saved, for his wife had come for him; perhaps she 
loved and cared for him after all ! It seems he did 
not see Cerclet. He laid his head on her shoulder, 
then on her knees, affection was still there for him. 
He was to be taken home, he hoped to sleep, the 
soothing quiet was descending on the overworn 
brain when he suddenly realised that they were not 
taking him home, that he was to be put in confine- 
ment, separated from his work, from his home, and 
from the wife whose returning care and affection 
he had hoped for. He was seized with an access 
of fury which, after he had been incarcerated, 
resulted in mania. 

Madame Comte, in writing to Montpellier, simply 
said he was not well and was staying in the country, 
but her father, to whom she had refused money, wrote 
to Comte' s parents telling them where he was and 
of the conduct of his wife and her former history. 
This was. indeed a blow for the simple family at 



Montpellier, whose hopes for their brilliant son were 
dashed to the ground. His mother decided to go 
to him, and arranged with the father that she should 
bring him back and in the quiet and peace of their 
surroundings strive to calm and restore the troubled 

She started at once, and on her arrival in Paris 
went straight to the Asylum and saw her son. He 
did not recognise her but, from his words and the 
information she had, she perceived the cause of his 
alienation, and formed her opinion about the case. 
She felt that the treatment and constraint were 
aggravating the disease and asked to be allowed 
to take her son with her, but Esquirol refused, 
saying, he could only hand him over to his wife 
who had entrusted him to his care. 

The devoted mother then put aside her prejudice 
and sought her daughter-in-law and proposed to 
her that they should take him out and place him 
in a religious house to be cured there. This his 
wife refused and in this she was probably right, 
for Rosalie, the pious mother, imagined that the 
soothing influence of the religion would gradually 
calm his mind and even bring him back to his old 
simple faith, but his wife knew this to be impossible, 
and perhaps felt that such a surrounding would 
only irritate him further. 

Esquirol had promised a speedy cure, so the 
mother waited in Paris, but the cure did not come 
and, after a few months, Esquirol pronounced the 
case incurable. Here Comte would have been left, 
his work lost to the world, but the mother with the 



wonderful insight of love, thought differently, she 
believed that if all the causes of irritation were re- 
moved he would recover. She sought her daughter- 
in-law again asking her whether she would take 
him back to his old home and tend him there 
promising all the pecuniary help she could give by 
the utmost economy -of her own concerns. To this 
his wife consented and he was brought home with 
an attendant, the windows being barred by the 
advice of Esquirol. 

To the mind of Rosalie, with her earnest Catholic 
convictions, their marriage had been no real marriage, 
it had not been blessed by the Church, what but 
further evil could result from their living together 
under such conditions? So, before she left them, 
by the aid of Lammenais, the nuptial benediction 
was pronounced, Comte all unconscious of the 
ceremony which would have seemed to him a mockery. 
Then the mother clasped her son in her arms and, 
as she had dedicated him as an infant, so now she 
offered herself as an oblation in his place, with 
intense religious devotion, and then returned home. 
Her son did not know that she had been there and 
she never told him of her devotion, thus helping 
towards his cure, for he thought it had all been the 
doing of his wife and the intense irritation her 
infidelity had caused him was soothed by her 
apparent fidelity and attachment. 

Soon it was found necessary to remove the bars 
and dismiss the attendant, these things irritated the 
patient, then the calm, the quiet, the feeling that he 
was cared for, gradually cured him, and the ex- 


citement passed away from the brain. But the 
reaction was inevitable, he was not allowed to work, 
his private life offered him little hope for the future, 
and profound depression set in. What use was he ? 
What good was his life to himself or others ! The 
thought became intolerable and one day he went out 
and threw himself from the top of the Pont des 
Arts into the Seine. A member of the Royal Guard, 
crossing the bridge, saw a drowning man and 
jumped in to his rescue; little thinking, and pro- 
bably never knowing, what important service he 
was rendering to the world. 

The shock had completed the work of cure and 
as he recovered he not only regretted the anxiety 
he had caused his wife, but the feeling of his 
mission returned, and he felt he had been guilty 
of an act of cowardice in trying to escape his 
suffering. He waited for returning strength, pre- 
paring himself to resume his work when possible. 
He also formed the resolution to endure patiently 
in his domestic life. Caroline was his wife, and 
must live with him, and he must not ask for tender- 
ness, accepting what she gave him he would not 
allow her action to interfere with the task it was 
given him to accomplish. 

The pecuniary difficulty was great but Ternau, a 
rich industrialist, responded to his request for help 
and, after a time, he was able to resume his lessons 
to earn his dailybread and then to take up again 
the work which had been so sadly interrupted. 


had to take up his life's work very 
gradually. The necessity for precautions as 
to health and strain, which he had never taken 
before, became evident. The struggle for daily 
bread, it was a hard one, had to be maintained, 
but his resolution was indomitable and his thoughts 
were occupied with the work to be done. 

His first important ^writing after his recovery, 
an essay on Broussais' f< Cerebral Irritation and 
Madness ", throws much light on his strength of 
mind. With calm philosophic insight he used his 
own experience, during his residence in the asylum, 
both as to symptoms and treatment, throwing much 
light on the subject and making the essay of special 

After this, he returned to the lectures so abruptly 
broken off and gave the whole series in the year. 
The same eminent men gathered to hear them, 
shewing their confidence in his complete cure. They 
listened, enthralled, to the clear exposition of the 
young philosopher as in the course of seventy-two 
lectures he expounded the history and philosophy 



of the abstract sciences, mathematics, astronomy, 
physics, chemistry, biology, and sociology, and it 
must be remembered that among those who listened 
admiringly were specialists in each branch. Poinsot 
and Navier, the eminent mathematicians, Humbolt, 
the astronomer, whose world-wide fame endures, 
Fourier, the physicist, whose researches on heat were 
translated sixty years later for the Cambridge Uni- 
versity Press, Blainville, the biologist and physician, 
whose scale of animals was the best then compiled, 
and Broussais, the follower of Bichat, to whose work, 
with that of his master, the development of positive 
science in connection with medicine is largely due. 

The situation is unique in the history of the race. 
Comte had, in his brain, before his illness, and found 
there unimpaired on his recovery, the whole of his 
positive philosophy which afterwards occupied six 
volumes. It is true he amplified it a little in parts 
but in essentials it was the same. It was, indeed, 
a miracle of intellectual achievement and he who 
gave it was himself founder of sociology, the 
summit of the series. It is impossible in a short life 
of this kind to give a complete idea of the scope and 
value of this work which is little known in England, 
our universities having ignored it in their courses. 
Comte, in later years, thought it unnecessary that 
it should be read except by those learned men who 
should respond to his call and form themselves into 
the new spiritual society to unite Europe and re- 
organise the world. 

A few principal points in the work and in his 
mind at the time it is necessary to recall that we 



may follow his later development. I In his early 
days his interest was concentrated on'iwo subjects, 
his belief in science and his desire for social 
regeneration. The discovery of the sociological 
laws, when he was twenty-four, united these two 
aims, for, by carrying law into political and social 
questions, the regeneration was securely founded on 
science. Knowing himself scientifically prepared he 
hoped to construct the renovating doctrine at once 
and wrote his essay on the Spiritual Power. But 
he soon saw that the foundation of scientific doctrine 
must also be given to the world, that social philo- 
sophy must be shewn to rest on natural philosophy, 
or the life of man to depend on the laws of the 
world. It was then that eighty hours of thought 
resulted in the conception of the Positive Philosophy 
as the foundation of the regeneration. 

Two special tasks lay before him, one mental, the 
other social. In the one, sociology would be shewn 
as the summit of scientific observations from the 
Greek times to Comte's own day. Here, the method 
was necessarily objective passing from the world to 
man, and the process of extracting the positive part 
of each science from the mass of theological and 
metaphysical ideas still surrounding it implied dis- 
cussion. In the later work, the subjective would 
be the necessary point of view, passing from man 
to the world, and the treatment would be more 

The object of the philosophy was to establish 
social physics as celestial, terrestial and organic 
physics had been established. This would give the 



positive view universality and would, therefore, 
lead to mental harmony, this harmony being im- 
possible while some ideas are explained by theology 
or metaphysics and some by positivism. But the 
most ardent theologian does not claim that we 
should return to theology in all the affairs of life, 
therefore the only harmony lies in bringing all under 
the shelter of the positive spirit. All the lower 
sciences are of importance to men but unity has 
been lost sight of in specialisation, the divisions 
between the sciences are arbitrary and for con- 
venience, in reality they are one. We cannot go 
back but must go forward and create a class of 
specialists in generalisation (this is the Spiritual 
Power). The first result of the philosophy will be 
to give us guidance in our search for truth, the 
second, the recasting of education. What is needed 
is that the methods and general conception of the 
abstract sciences shall be taught in a manner com- 
prehended by the mass of the people.) 

The sciences are classified according to their 
decreasing generality and increasing dependence, 
and are related to space, earth and Humanity. 
Mathematics, the foundation of all, can only be 
proved on the mental space, that is to say in the 

[ Scientific men and others in England and Italy 
have declared Comte's work to be antiquated because 
new discoveries have been made since his time. The 
French do not seem to have made the same mistake, 
probably because they are more accustomed to dis- 
tinguish the abstract from the concrete. His work 



was abstract and he does not claim to be a scientist, 
except in sociology, though he well might have done 
so in mathematics, and it was said of him by an 
eminent man of his own day that " no science held 
any secret for him "^ 

He meets this objection himself when he says of 
the special class of thinkers that their work will 
throw light on the work of the specialists, and 
adds, t( whose results the specialists would in turn 
be able to rectify ". Far from limiting the develop- 
ment of the mind, his discovery of " Relativity " 
shews that truth is nothing fixed but a quantity 
varying with every age, nay, with every day, of 
the life of Humanity. He certainly classified and 
arranged human knowledge so that any new material 
can be at once utilised. As well might a librarian 
be accused of not wanting any more books in his 
library because he has arranged those he has; is it 
not rather true that until he has arranged them the 
most valuable new books will be practically useless 
to the public ? 

He traced the whole growth of mathematics from 
the early Greek discoveries up to the modern analytic 
method re-defining geometry as the indirect measure- 
ment of magnitudes and substituting " volume " 
for " solid ", as, in the mental space, we imagine 
the impression or shape rather than the solid itself. 
He showed how number underlies all human con- 
ceptions and how the abstract laws of motion of 
Kepler, Newton, and Galileo may be traced even 
in social phenomena. The sciences are divided into 
inorganic and organic and the inorganic again into 



the celestial and terrestrial. The abstract astronomy 
of the solar system is really mathematics made 
manifest; this science has cleared itself of theology 
and metaphysics. Physics, combined with chemistry, 
is the study of the earth; the branches of physics 
correspond with our senses by aid of which our 
observations are made. Physics consists in the 
study of the general laws of matter while chemistry 
deals with the special. In physics man begins to 
modify the world and thus helps to overcome the 
theological spirit as astronomy docs by the clear 
prevision it admits. Here experiment is developed 
while in chemistry clear and accurate definition 
aids the mind. The problem of chemistry is : from 
the compound to find the elements, or vice versa ; 
its phenomena approach very near to those of life. 

In biology the composition and decomposition 
(found in chemistry) takes place round a centre. 
Life is defined by Blainville as " the double interior 
action of composition and decomposition ". For 
this, an organism and a sympathetic environment 
are necessary. The study of biology is divided 
into that of vegetable and animal, and the vegetable, 
as simpler, is the foundation of the more complex 
animal life. Comparison is the method developed 
and in the scale we descend from man to the 
vegetable or ascend from the vegetable to man. The 
problem is : c ' given the organ to find the function, 
and vice versa ". 

The animal life serves the vegetable, that is, it 
enables the being to find food, or its mate, and to 
avoid danger. Only when man living in society 



has brought into being an immense and practically 
eternal life is this reversed, and the vegetable life 
then serves the animal or the life of nutrition the 
life of relation. Each science rests on all below it 
and in education the same order of gradual com- 
plication should be followed. 

The introductory chapters to all the sciences have 
been slightly indicated here. In each case Comte 
proceeded to deal with the whole history and growth 
of the science and he did it as we have seen to the 
satisfaction and admiration of the most eminent 
specialists of the day. He then expounded the 
science of sociology of which he is the acknow- 
ledged founder. So far his work had been to arrange 
the work of others disentangling the positive thought, 
founded on observation and reality, from the 
theologic and metaphysic thought founded on 
fiction and imagination. Now, his work was 

The theologic solution has failed before the 
positive is established and revolution is the result, 
men are divided into camps of so-called Order or 
Progress, the one clinging to the past order without 
appreciating its development, the other largely 
negative calling vaguely for progress, and men 
oscillate between the two as they are alarmed, (as 
in the foolish panic in our day in England over the 
Zinovief letter). But order and progress are not 
opposed, no government can last unless based on 
order, or if it be opposed to progress. 

The positive principle recognises the law of 

D ( 49 


continuous human development , its aim is the 
establishment of mental harmony on the basis of 
order and it is directly progressive, it does not seek 
absolute truth but is always relative and makes 
prevision possible in social matters as in physical. 
The science is divided into static and dynamic 
investigations, that is, the conditions of society and 
the laws of its development. All the means of 
investigation employed in the simpler sciences are 
utilised in sociology with the addition of historic 
observation. It rests on all the other sciences. 
There are three aspects in which man can be 
regarded: (i) Individual, (2) Family, (3) Society. 
In the first, we see feeling is stronger than intellect 
and the personal desires are stronger than the social ; 
the problem is to modify these selfish desires by 
the union of social feeling and intellectual activity. 
In the second, the family is the unit of society, 
containing all its elements and through it man comes 
forth from personality and learns to live for others. 
Man and woman in the family correspond to the 
Temporal and Spiritual Powers in society. In the 
third, Society, we find unity of aim with diversity 
of means, co-operation prevails. There can be no 
society without government and this consists of two 
parts, Temporal and Spiritual, at first combined 
then separate. The spirit of the whole must prevail 
and combine the parts. 

The " Law of the Three Stages " is the basis of 
social dynmics, by its aid Comte traced the growth 
of society with marvellous power and insight from 
the times of primitive savagery up to his own day, 



passing in review the fetichist, astrolatric, polytheist, 
monotheist, and revolutionary periods. 

It is very difficult for us to-day to realise the 
immensity of this labour or the originality of thought 
it implied. For, although he himself has been little 
recognised, his thought has permeated society so 
that every superficial' history and schoolboy's primer 
has caught the idea of continuous development, the 
realisation of the full mental harmony is, however, 
still far off. In summing up, Comte says : " Positive 
philosophy confines research to the invariable 
relations which constitute natural laws.' 1 We can- 
not limit the extension of man's knowledge but it 
must advance by the path of observation and 
experience, it is in accordance with common sense. 

Science has been prized as the basis of rational 
action but its logical effect in developing the mind 
is also of importance and the firm mental foundation 
allows liberty of conception and speculation. The 
establishment of positivism will modify society far 
more than any revolution yet experienced. In 
speculation men will be spared much labour by the 
rational method, the concentration of man's hopes 
on the earth will stimulate all speculations which 
will improve the conditions of existence. Moral 
rules will acquire energy and tenacity when men 
realise how the actions and feelings of each affect 
the lives of others, a common belief will give effect 
to conviction and a universal education will unite 
all. Personal morality will be ennobled when it is 
detached from ideas of prudence with regard to 
physical health or eternal salvation. The importance 


of domestic life will be realised as it is there thit 
the virtues are learned and the sweetness of living 
for others made manifest, and, in social Jife 
positive morality will show that our happiness 
depends on the habit of benevolent acts and 
sympathetic feelings. Relativity will make it 
applicable to all cases. In politics the separation of 
the powers of command and counsel will secure 
order and progress. Every form of noble art will 
find expression beyond anything known in the past 
as the conquest of man over nature is recognised 
and all the surroundings of man brought into 
sympathetic relations with him. 

The "Philosophy" was finished in 1842 when 
Comte was forty- four years old. The foundation 
of his life's work was laid. He had created the 
science of sociology but had not yet perceived the 
higher step of disentangling the science of the 
individual in society from that of the animal 
man in biology, and from that of society itself. 
He had shown that the problem was the subordina- 
tion of personal to social feeling, that the aim 
was love, but he had not yet realised that the 
motive power was also love, which thus becomes the 
Alpha and Omega of Humanity, j 


HOW was Comte upheld by his family and 
friends during the twelve years of concen- 
trated labour which resulted in the completion of 
his " Philosophy ", the foundation of his life's 
work, his social mission ? 

The story of his gradually increasing isolation 
and suffering is indeed a sad one and is intimately 
connected with his unhappy marriage. The chivalry 
of his nature made him uphold the woman he had 
married against all the world and after his recovery 
he decided to put her past infidelity entirely out of 
his mind for he felt now he owed her a debt of 
gratitude, not only had she nursed him back to life 
but he thought she had also saved him for his work. 
He had heard that his mother had been induced by 
Lammenais to try to place him in a religious house 
and he believed this was a plot of the Catholic 
Church to keep him incarcerated, and prevent the 
carrying out of his mission. This distrust of his 
friend Lammenais was increased when he found his 
wife's history was known, and believed that Lam- 
menais had betrayed what he had told him under the 
seal of confession. He did not know that Caroline's 



father had been spreading reports about her and 
that there were many other channels through which 
the knowledge of her past might have been spread. 
It turned him for a time against Lammenais and 
had the unfortunate effect of making him doubt 
whether his mother's religion might not induce her 
to turn against him. His wife could have told him 
of his mother's devotion during his illness, but it is 
evident she did not, and this helped to bring about 
his separation from his family which can only be 
regarded with deep regret. 

He insisted on respect being shown to his wife 
and would not have anyone in his house who treated 
her with disrespect. Tabarie whose friendship had 
been highly valued by Comte and who had helped 
with money during his illness wrote after his recovery 
saying his marriage had been a fatal mistake. 
Comte immediately broke off all correspondence 
with him and this helpful friendship passed out of 
his life, though never out of his heart. His illness 
also caused a break in his correspondence with Valat, 
and for some years there was silence between these 
two devoted friends. His friend Eichthall joined 
the St. Simonians and entirely changed his attitude 
of respectful friendship towards the man who had 
taught him so much. 

His sister, Alix, had spoken strongly against his 
wife even telling her parents that if she came to 
Montpellier she herself would go into a convent 
during her visit. How this was reported in Paris 
we do not know but there seem to have been some 
gossips in Montpellier. Alix also had some contro- 



versy with Auguste on theological matters. His 
mother's letters became more and more pathetic, she 
implored him to write oftener and to write to his 
sister who was ill, she sent kind messages to his 
wife, but finally, during an outbreak of cholera in 
Paris, she asked him to come alone to Montpellier. 
Then his anger broke out. Should he seek safety 
himself and leave the being who was the most to 
him in the world in danger ! His letter was very 
bitter; Caroline should be respected as his wife. 
He would never go alone, he would write no more. 

He might have recognised as part of the situation 
that there could be no real sympathy between the 
simple orthodox family at Montpellier and the 
brilliant, emancipated, pleasure-loving Caroline, but 
his gradually increasing misery at home was making 
him irritable and bitter, he would, if possible, hide 
the fact that his hearth fire was dead. Outside 
criticism of his wife touched him on the raw, he 
was realising more and more that he had ruined the 
peace and happiness of his life by his loveless 
quixotic marriage. 

After his recovery from his illness he had recon- 
sidered his life and regulated it anew. It had 
always been a life of sustained endeavour with little 
self-indulgence but now he felt he must guard his 
health if he were to perform his life's task. He 
would no longer keep himself awake night after 
night that he might continue his meditation, he had 
done so by drinking coffee and this he now gave up 
entirely, and in later days he made other renuncia- 
tions to mark crises in his life. 



He gave seven or eight hours to sleep, six or 
eight were taken up every day by the lessons which 
supplied him and his wife with their daily bread, 
he took long solitary walks to avoid undue strain 
on the brain, and, if we deduct the necessary time 
for meals and some slight social intercourse, we 
find he had little time left for the beloved task which 
was the purpose of his life. Even that short time 
was diminished by the want of harmony with his 
wife, by their differences of opinion and outlook. 

She dared once more, just at the end of his course 
of lectures in 1829, to repeat the infamous proposal 
she had made before that she should receive a rich 
gallant. This time, while rejecting it with horror, 
Comte did not allow it to upset his health. He had 
begun to accept her at her own valuation and not to 
expect fidelity or purity from her. She was con- 
stantly urging him to seek for appointments and 
once induced him to take political action, but the 
authorities were against him, and in politics he found 
that those he was working with believed in a very 
different republicanism to his own. They wanted 
to bring about changes immediately and by violence, 
while his method was by conviction and rational 

A characteristic incident took place in 1830 when 
the political situation was grave. Summoned to 
join the National Guard, Comte, refusing to do so, 
was condemned by the Council of Discipline, but 
defended himself and, giving his reasons for being 
a conscientious objector, said, 


" The law declares that the National Guard is 
founded to defend the Government which France 
has chosen. Had it been only to maintain order 
I should not have refused my part in the duties 
this law imposed, but I refuse to take part in 
purely political struggles. I shall never attack 
the Government by force, but being republican 
in heart and mind I cannot take the oath to 
defend at the peril of my life and of that of 
others a government which I should oppose 
were I a man of action ". 

He was condemned to three days in prison. He 
prepared at once to go providing himself with a 
large quantity of paper, ink, sealing wax, and, it 
is said, thirty books, while he arranged with his 
pupils to come to the prison for their lessons. He 
went off and Madame Comte, left behind, felt 
anxious for she knew how any change in his 
arrangements upset him. There was a ring at the 
door, it was the good natured Guard who had 
brought her a pass to save her the trouble of going 
for it. He said he would much rather carry out 
his orders against people who resisted than against 
one who carried them out himself so pleasantly. It 
is also said that Comte was rather sorry when his 
three days' retirement came to an end. 

In 1832, he was appointed as Tutor in the Poly- 
technic and, in 1837 was made Examiner, and these 
posts gave him more time for his work. He bore 
with his wife as he best could but sometimes his 
chivalry failed him and he taxed her with ingrati- 



tude to the man who had given her his name. She 
disdainfully rejected the idea that she owed him 
gratitude, indeed it is evident that such a woman, 
ambitious, pleasure-seeking, capable, conscious of 
being able to shine in society, must have found 
little to suit her in the lonely and penurious life 
she led by the side of this man so austerely devoted 
to his work. She must have felt like a lover of 
money who held a cheque for a large amount which 
no one would cash, for she knew her husband's 
power and genius and realised all that he might have 
done and been, and he would do nothing to lead to 
the life of ease and distinction of which she dreamed. 
He gave way to her in so many ways that she thought 
him weak and did not understand that it was the 
strength of his determination to put up with the 
evils resulting from his choice. She left him more 
than once that she might be free. At first he begged 
her to return but the day came when he told her that 
if she went again it must be never to return. She 
did not believe he would carry this threat into effect 
and left him in 1842 never again to enter his house 
until he lay dead within it. 

His long misery came to an end but he had not 
escaped scathless; how was it possible that he 
should ! He had entirely respected her as his wife 
and never, in spite of her long absences, was un- 
faithful to her. But no man was ever more 
susceptible to woman's influence, and hers had a 
hardening effect upon him, there are signs of a 
certain drying up of his heart, he was severe with 
those who opposed him and his opinion about women 



was lowered, he did not expect from them a higher 
standard of personal morality than that among men. 

Had Comte's work been merely intellectual research 
for its own sake, this drying up of the heart would 
have been fatal, but the social purpose of his work 
was never absent from his mind. The love of the 
children of the future was burning in his heart, and 
was his salvation. But his own life was marred, his 
nature " cribbed, cabined and confined ". 

We are constantly told to-day of the evil effect 
on development of too great repression of the lower 
instincts but how disastrous when the higher ones 
have little or no sustenance, when the tender attach- 
ment and loving veneration which should take root 
and flourish in family life are left to wither there 
unfostered. These should have sustained him in his 
abnormal development of the highest instinct of all, 
his devotion to the future. The strain of that 
devotion without their aid must have been great and 
caused the bitterness, the harsh judgment, with 
which he has been taxed. 

When in his studies he arrived at the sociology 
which was exclusively his own domain, he was 
necessarily led to study the arts and here, at last, 
his nature found expansion. In the works of the 
most renowned poets of all the Western countries 
he found the help which he needed for his higher, 
nobler feeling. He deeply regretted that music, 
poetry, and painting had been denied him in his 
early days and, later, when ho came to deal with 
the education of the young, he stressed the import- 
ance of these things. His life so far had been 



absorbed in keen intellectual endeavour. It was not 
enough ; he was beginning to realise the importance 
of beauty. 

In 1837 his mother, Rosalie, died. Directly he 
heard she was ill he wrote but his letter was too late, 
she was never conscious enough to hear that it had 
come. There is no record of that letter but we can 
guess that it bore the message of the tender love for 
her which had lain dormant in his heart. What 
bitter grief and self-upbraiding he felt we cannot 
know but his later words and reviving worship of 
her can give us some idea. Her death, his domestic 
sorrows, and other difficulties, caused a short break- 
down in his health and on recovery he made another 
personal renunciation, that of tobacco. 

For a few more years his wife lived with him and 
then she left him as we have seen, and so, through 
no act of his, he was left alone. What he endured 
in their life together we can guess when we hear that 
loneliness and complete isolation were peaceful and 
happy to him by comparison. 


HIS wife had left him but her sinister effect on 
his life was not ended, even after he had 
found rest in death his work was retarded both in 
France and England by the misunderstanding of 
his relationship with her. For the moment he lived 
in comparative peace; he speaks of it as " the peace 
of the grave ". 

He was alone in the large apartment of the Rue 
Monsieur le Prince where he and his wife had moved 
some time before their separation, where the strenuous 
work of his later years was done, where he ex- 
perienced the regeneration of his heart and mind 
by means of a noble affection, where he died attended 
by his adopted daughter and faithful disciples; and 
where to-day, seventy years after his death, men 
from all lands come to meditate on the life and 
work of the wise and loving social Reformer and 
religious Teacher. 

The work which had occupied every moment he 
could spare from bread winning was finished and 
the relief from strain was great. He lived more 
and more with the poets and listened to beautiful 



music, the esthetic side of his nature developed 
apace. But more was needed, his bitter experience 
had hardened him and made him harsh. He wrote 
a preface to the last volume of his cc Positive 
Philosophy " in which he attacked Arago a leading 
member of the French Academy, and the whole 
system of which he formed part. He pointed out 
how unjustly he had been treated when he had 
applied for posts in the Polytechnic ; this was indeed 
true, for, in spite of his extraordinary ability for 
mathematical teaching and his reputation for the 
philosophy of science, he had been passed over 
again and again for less able men. 

The severe attack on Arago alarmed Comte's 
publisher who showed the preface to Arago and 
altered it. Comte brought an action against him 
for doing this, claiming the freedom of the press. 
The cause was given in his favour but the incident 
created a feeling of bitter hostility against him in 
the Academy which led later to his monetary ruin 
and the loss of his posts at the Polytechnic, although, 
he left an impression there of a high and honourable 
character and of undoubted mental superiority. As 
examiner he raised the whole standard of the school. 
He was honoured alike by his pupils, his fellow- 
teachers and his official superiors but he found the 
lack of intellectual honesty and mental capacity in 
high places was unendurable and when he spoke 
against it his words had no uncertain sound. His 
post as examiner gave him his first opportunity of 
travel, he saw many of the towns of France and 
had pleasant contacts with many people. He soon 



wearied of the enforced absence, Paris was the 
scene of his life's work and there he would be. But 
during his time of misery at home the change must 
have been a relief and it benefitted his health and 
also enabled him to renew his relations with his early 
friend Valat. Valat, however, could not compre- 
hend his work and made some inadequate criticisms 
of the philosophy, and later confessed that he had 
returned to Catholicism. Although surprised at this 
change Comte congratulated him at having at any 
rate returned to the logical theology and not stopped 
at any of the half-way deistic houses. His pleasant 
expansions to Valat about his work were necessarily 
over and the loneliness of his heart is expressed 
when he says that he loves his friend's children but 
feels how much he has lost by having none of his 
own. He loved animals too, observed them closely 
and recognised their devotion. In a letter to his 
wife on one of his examining tours he speaks of 
" notre pauvre Toulon " who was a little cat that 
had been given them. His visits to Montpellier as 
examiner were embittered by the fact that his father 
and sister did not see him. Even at this time he 
was not entirely forsaken; a year before she left 
him Madame Comte had engaged a household help, 
Sophie Bliaux (Madame Thomas) who looked after 
his bodily needs with pious care. Comte did not 
at first realise what she was, for this humble woman 
was to become one of the " three Queens who helped 
him in his need n and was to earn the gratitude of 
all who loved and honoured him. 

Through the cloud which hung over his life there 


shines the constant light of his social ardour, his 
whole heart was set on doing the work for which 
his previous labours were but a preparation, his love 
of the race never failed but no man can live on 
this highest spiritual bread alone; he was like a 
man climbing a mountain whose provisions which 
were to help him on the way had failed. Some 
personal appreciation fell to his share and of this 
he made the most. 

His work was recognised by eminent men in 
Europe, notably by Littre, in France, who spoke of 
himself as a little boy by his side, and by John 
Stuart Mill, in England, who acknowledged him as 
his master. With him he formed a friendship 
through correspondence and Mill's letters shew the 
admiration he felt for the French philosopher. He 
was not able to follow him in his later work but at 
this time they were in accord and Mill quoted 
Voltaire's saying that when a Frenchman and an 
Englishman agree they must be right. Comte 
remarked that, while the mass of the English 
people were very much behind those on the continent, 
their few thinkers were more advanced, and certainly 
the work of Bacon, Locke, Hurneand others confirms 
this testimony. Mill, in an early letter, apologised 
to Comte for the concessions he had to make to 
Anglican opinion. He says that a writer speaking 
out would not only lose his social position (which 
he would be prepared to do) but would also not be 
read, he himself simply refrained from the declama- 
tory praises of providential wisdom which were 
generally made use of even by unbelievers in 



England. It is to be hoped our writers of to-day 
have the courage of their opinions whatever they 
may be. 

He made the acquaintance of the Austins who 
were in Paris and his friendship with Mrs. Austin, 
though slight, was a real pleasure to him. So far 
the women of intellectual eminence he had known 
were either blue stockings, that is, suffering from 
piide of intellect, or " femmes libres ", having cast 
aside the current morality; in her, he found both 
" intellectual modesty and moral delicacy ". She 
accused him in a letter of not sufficiently appreciat- 
ing women. He was much disturbed by this accusa- 
tion and told her that while he expected only about 
fifty people in the whole of Europe to understand 
his work and give him their adhesion he had always 
thought a large proportion of them would be women, 
adding, he should distrust any system that did not 
appeal to them. On a fuller knowledge of his work, 
Mrs. Austin wrote to him that on the woman question 
" there is only you ", "II n'y a que vous ". 
Writing to her on the subject of prayer, he says : 

" Prayer has its indestructible basis in human 
nature. People think that the emotions and 
even the conceptions of our nature cannot exist 
apart from the costume they wore during 
childhood ". 

In 1843, he wrote his treatise on Analytic 

Geometry and, in 1844, his " Popular Astronomy ". 

Ever since 1830 he had given a free course of lectures 

on astronomy to workmen. He felt the importance 

E 65 


of their realising the scientific method that they 
might apply it, rather than the merely critical or 
destructive method, to social questions. Through 
all his difficulties he continued these seventy lectures 
a year until 1847. They were much appreciated by 
the Parisian workmen and an increasing number 
attended, of all sorts and conditions, reaching, one 
year, a total of four hundred. Some of his most 
devoted followers both in life and after death were 
drawn from this source. Although the lectures 
lasted two, three or even, in some cases, for five 
hours, with a short interval in the middle, it was 
rare indeed for any of the hearers to leave before 
the end. His style, a little formal at the beginning 
af the lecture, recalling his writings, became ani- 
mated, charming and conversational as he developed 
his subject ; never losing the central theme or thread 
of the discourse he illustrated it with astonishing 
vividness using swift sarcasm, and pleasant irony 
to emphasise the points he wished to make, while 
his own intense belief carried conviction to the 
audience. His voice was clear and without being 
loud was heard in every corner of the room. It is 
said that those who were present $t these lectures 
could never forget them. 

In 1844 the hatred of the Academy began to have 
its effect. The examinership for the Polytechnic 
was taken from him, and this meant that the sale 
of his " Analytic Geometry " ceased. The loss of 
the post in a preparatory school followed, and Comte 
was reduced to his position as lecturer. He tried to 
get lessons in the schools but the principals were 



either convinced by, or feared to offend, the opinion 
of the Academy. His own needs were very modest, 
his life was even ascetic, but he had undertaken to 
pay Madame Comte three thousand francs a year 
and this was a large share of his slender resources. 

The members of the Academy hoped to silence 
him but he was already known in Europe, and it is 
to the credit of England that the first to come to 
his assistance were three Englishmen whom Mill had 
informed of his difficulties. Grote, Molcsworth and 
Raikes Currie sent him a sufficient sum expressing 
their indignation at the treatment he had received 
from the Polytechnic. 

About this time one of Comte's pupils, Maximilien 
Marie, wrote a treatise on mathematics of which the 
Academy took no notice. Comte regarded the work 
favourably and to the next edition Marie added a 
dedication to him in which he expressed his respect 
for the master. He lived with his parents and no 
doubt he spoke of Comte in his family. At the end 
of 1844 Maximilien Marie invited him to his home, 
he introduced him to his fair young wife, little more 
than a child, and then, turning to another lady who 
was in the room, he introduced his sister. As 
she rose to greet him Comte bowed and then raised 
his shortsighted eyes (one was weak and drooping) 
and saw before him a young woman rather above 
the middle height, of graceful and modest bearing, 
with fair auburn hair making an aureole around her 
head, with a bright and beautiful colour in her 
cheeks, soft green eyes and an expression which 
showed how prolonged suffering had given a pensive 


caste to features naturally formed for gladness and 
joy. Auguste Comte looked for the first time on 
the face of Clotilde de Vaux. He was visibly 
struck, here was the gentle goodness, the feminine 
charm, which he had so far sought in vain, perhaps 
death who had even then laid his hand upon her had 
already given her the transformation which is his 
special gift, and the spiritual had already conquered 
the physical. 

As he took his leave Clothilde turned to her young 
sister-in-law and said with something of her old 
girlish gaiety " How ugly he is ". 



LOTILDE DE VAUX, the sister of Maximilien 
Marie and the daughter of Captain and 
Madame Marie, united in herself the two opposite 
strains then so marked in France; on her mother's 
side she was descended from the old French aris- 
tocracy, and it was among them, when they were 
not corrupted, that the finest development of 
personal grace and refinement of the Western world 
was found; and on her father's side she came from 
the people, that French proletariat full of the 
passionate social impulse which was the moving 
power in the regeneration of the modern world. 
Her mother's family, the de Ficquelmonts, were 
not only aristocrats but also had shewn remarkable 
intellectual powers. Their hereditary property was 
in Lorraine and they were one of the four families 
called " Les Grands Chevaux " who formed the 
four pillars of the ducal throne. They were related 
to the first houses of Europe and boasted cousinship 
to the holy and illustrious Archbishop of Milan, 
Saint Charles Borrom6o, they claimed also relation- 


ship to a very different character the Comte de la 
Marche, the " Wild Boar of the Ardennes " of 
whom Sir Walter Scott has written in " Quentin 
Durward ". 

Clotilde's uncle, the Count de Ficquelmont, was 
of a noble character and once controlled a large mob, 
collected to assassinate his cousin, by his calmness 
and dauntless bearing. In the latter part of his life 
he devoted himself to literature. In a book called 
" Lord Palmerston, England and the Continent ", 
he analysed the situation of European societies and 
shewed the certain ruin of the ancient order, 
the difficulties of the new organisation, and the 
impossibility of returning to the past. The chivalry 
of his character is shewn in a letter he wrote to his 
daughter, on the day of her confirmation, in which 
he pointed out that the moral life is a constant 
struggle, and urged her to use the gifts and ad- 
vantages she had received with gratitude, and to 
remember that " all men were equal before God ", 
and he described to her the life of a woman and 
how it differs from that of a man. 

The sister of this Count was Henriette Josephine 
Marie, the mother of Clotilde, she also was mentally 
well endowed and liberal in mind. She wrote many 
pamphlets on social economy full of the love of 
humanity, one was a " Suggestion for a religious 
and perpetual association of women to work for the 
help of the poor and the extirpation of mendicity ". 
Her liberal opinions probably led to her marriage 
with Captain Marie, a man of the people, whom she 
met in Bohemia when she was thirty-six. For this 



marriage she was for a time thrown off by her 

Clotilde was born in Paris on the 2nd of April, 
1815. Captain Marie had retired from the army and 
he and his wife were poor but through her interest 
he was appointed collector of taxes at Meru in 1823. 
Clotilde 1 s parents can have had little devotion to 
the Catholic Church for she was not baptised until 
she was nine years old, and then, apparently, only 
as a means of admission to the Convent of the Legion 
of Honour, where she was admitted as a pupil and 
remained until she was eighteen. Here she became 
a devout Catholic. 

Louis XVIII had established order with toleration, 
and catholics of large outlook had brought about a 
partial re-birth of Catholicism which inspired the 
young and penetrated to the convent school where 
the child Clotilde was being educated giving her the 
training in reverence which helped to make her the 
woman she became. This discipline developed in 
noble minds the tendency to self-sacrifice, to volun- 
tary submission, and to constant self-examination 
lest self should prevail, and Clotilde, whose soul was 
attuned to all delicate and tender feeling, responded 
like the violin to the hand of the master. On the 
occasion of her first communion she wrote a letter 
to her father and mother declaring her intention of 
correcting her faults expressed in a pious "manner at 
which it is possible her parents, slightly affected by 
religion themselves, may have given a tolerant smile. 
In the midst of her sorrow, when she was twenty- 
two, she wrote in a little book she had used in the 

7 1 


convent, which she kept to the last day of her life : 
" Precious souvenir of my youth, companion and 
guide of the holy hours which are passed for me, 
remind me always of the grand and solemn cere- 
monies of the convent chapel ". 

At eighteen, Clotilde left the convent and returned 
home. The education she had received had been 
slight ; she loved poetry and had a deep feeling for 
music but had received no instruction in it. Later 
we find she shared Comte's feeling against " con- 
ventual establishments " for education, and not 
long before her death she planned an article on the 
abuse of scholastic institutions. 

She was of a gay and joyous disposition, loving 
to tease her brothers, and dancing with delight, 
and with her pale auburn hair and delicate colouring 
was a vision of hope and gladness in the home of 
the Maries. She was happy to be at home again 
and her love and admiration for her mother in- 
fluenced the development of her mind, for Madame 
Marie, daughter as she was of the high and 
exclusive nobility of Lorraine was largely emanci- 
pated in religion, liberal in politics, and devoted 
to the poor. She discussed with her daughter her 
views of fraternity and the bond between them was 
very close. 

This happy joyous period lasted but a short time 
for Clotilde, owing to her parents' anxiety to establish 
her suitably in life. A year after her return home 
Amadie de Vaux was appointed as deputy to Captain 
Marie. He belonged to a family of noble origin, 
much looked up to in that part of the country. It 



may be that Clotilda's mother liked the idea of her 
daughter's returning to the class she had herself for- 
saken by her marriage; she had certainly experienced 
poverty and hardship. However this may be, the 
parents, unfortunately, planned a marriage between 
Amadie de Vaux and Clotilde and as they had no 
money to provide her 'with a dowry they decided 
that Captain Marie should resign in de Vaux's 
favour if the marriage took place. Then they 
would only have the trousseau to provide. 

de Vaux was thirty years of age and of a kindly 
disposition. Clotilde accepted the arrangement of 
her parents although both they and she doubted 
whether Amadie had strength of character. The 
mother had even remarked on his selfishness but at 
this time marriage was almost the only resource for 
a young girl and there seemed much in his favour. 
Writing to Clotilde later of her effect upon him at 
this time, he says : 

" I loved you, not perhaps with a passionate, but 
with a pure and sweet love; you charmed me, 
and I thought you beautiful. I knew you to 
be so pure, so beautifully brought up, you 
seemed as an angel to me ". 

After the marriage Clotilde strove to attach herself 
to her husband and to carry out the duties of a 
wife, but she never felt love for him and the hope 
of respecting him gradually diminished. Still, 
neither she nor her parents had any idea of the 
tragedy which was hanging over them. A year 



after the marriage M. de Vaux was appointed to 
the office of Captain Marie who resigned. 

A year later a child was born who died im- 
mediately, Clotilde herself being very ill indeed. 
Something of the intensity of her sorrow and dis- 
appointment we can guess, for although before the 
child was born she doubted whether she wished for 
it, we hear later that the desire of her heart was 
maternity. The loss of her child partly revealed to 
her the intensity of her own feelings. 

Three years after her marriage, while she was 
visiting at the home of her husband's brother, 
Amadie de Vaux decamped burning the papers at 
the Tax Office, which was broken into by the 
authorities to find a heap of ashes instead of the 
documents. Amadie was a gambler and had used 
the sums he had collected as tax gatherer and now 
escaped. He was never captured nor did his wife 
ever see him again. All their things were seized, 
even her wardrobe, and the unfortunate girl had to 
take refuge at her parents' house without even a 
hat or mantle just in the dress she had on. 

The family of the Maries had prided themselves 
not only on their honour but on that which Clotilde 
called better, their honesty. Captain Marie's term 
of office had been marked by honourable conduct 
in every way and this disgrace was very painful 
indeed to them, they were also impoverished for 
Captain Marie had given up his post that the 
husband of his dear daughter might be provided for. 

The Due del Ficquelmont, her mother's brother, 
offered Clotilde a home in his family, for the two 



families had long been reconciled, but this Clotilde 
gratefully declined; she had already decided what 
she would do. If she became a member of the 
family of an aristocrat she would lose her personal 
independence, and she wished to dedicate herself to 
social reform. As her thoughts dwelt on all she 
had suffered her great 'desire was that others should 
not suffer in the same way. She found herself, a 
beautiful young woman barely twenty-four, chained 
for life to a man who, were he found, was doomed 
to the galleys. She decided that, while trying to 
steel her heart from any affection, which could only 
be gratified by disorder, she would write something 
which would call attention to this cruel anomaly 
and save other women from such a life, for, although 
where there had been true love no moral failure or 
crime should cause it to fail, where, as was then the 
custom in France, a woman was given to a man, 
without choice of her own, she should not be bound 
to wear out her life in loneliness for one socially 
dead to whom her heart had never been given. 

Clotilde' s family were disturbed at her decision, 
perhaps they felt that she was not sufficiently 
educated for a literary career, and feared the 
difficulties and temptations of an independent life. 
Her uncle, apparently not offended by her refusal 
to live with him, paid a small sum every year to 
help in her maintenance and her mother added some- 
thing to this. We do not know when she gave up 
her Catholic faith but probably when she wrote the 
inscription in her little book she was beginning to 
lose it and she became completely emancipated. She 



was in fact the ideal modern woman, desiring mental 
independence and freedom from the trammels of 
mere convention, fearless in examining the founda- 
tions of belief and rules of conduct, and fully 
determined to carry out her convictions and devote 
her ripening powers to social service. To this she 
added the charm and grace of the old regime and 
the humility which was the result of her early 
training in the worship of the Madonna. 

For two years she lived with her parents and 
found a dear friend in a married cousin, then she 
went to Paris and lived with her brother Maximilien 
until his marriage, afterwards she had a small 
apartment of her own in the Rue Payenne 5 near 
her family. In a letter to her brother, written in 
1841, she says: 

(( Oh do not do away with the family. It is 
true it has its defects of organisation but it 
has something which no other society has, a 
true interest *n every one of its members, and 
the inexhaustible consolation which the love of 
a mother gives ... I love mamma with 
all the religion which the great virtues of her 
heart inspire and I can truly say that I never 
answered her with impatience or ill humour 
without regretting it bitterly M . 

Clotilde de Vaux had yet to undergo a fiery trial, 
the worst she experienced. She met a man (who it 
was is a secret buried in Pre La Chaise) a man who 
responded to all the noblest feelings and desires of 
her heart. She learned to love him with entire 


devotion and intensity. He responded with equal 
ardour and evidently begged her to accept the home 
and life of love which was her ideal of happiness, 
but they were separated by a double obstacle, her 
unhappy marriage, and his bond, which she found 
included duties. She strove to transform her love 
into a sisterly or maternal tenderness but all in 
vain, her heart was torn by passionate feeling, her 
health was undermined. At last she determined to 
separate herself from the man she loved and to see 
him no more; only then, she says, she began to live 
again. It was a painful life to which she returned, 
every night she asked herself should she have 
courage to live another day, sombre thoughts of 
suicide passed through her mind but were success- 
fully combated. How her path became clear to her 
at this time and how she was sustained during it, 
we shall find explained in her novelette " Lucie " 
which was written in 1843. 

This book has little resemblance to the English 
novel, it is rather the descendant of such writers 
as St. Pierre, Madame de la Fayette, Madame de 
Stael and other French writers who have analysed 
delicate feeling. Like the " Princesse de Cloves " 
and " Delphine " it is autobiographical and might 
have been named like Goethe's story " The Con- 
fessions of a Beautiful Soul ". 

We have seen that the old sanctions of society 
had broken down, free unions were usual and in 
such a case as Clotilde's would have been considered 
by many not only justifiable but desirable. She 
herself was entirely emancipated, Hell had no 



terrors, /Heaven no attraction for her, nor did she 

trouble about her personal dignity, she would have 
sacrificed herself willingly for love, mere convention 
had no power over her, and she had the passionate 
desire for maternity, but her deep love of others, 
her strong altruism, so enlightened her mind that 
she was able to disentangle the human sanctions of 
conduct from theologic and conventional sanctions? 
In other words, she realised the meaning of positive 
morality through her spontaneous worship of 

Lucie, like herself, is the young wife of a man 
socially dead but her husband has been transported 
for life for robbery and murder and her lover 
Maurice is bound by no ties. He tries with respect- 
ful tenderness to induce her to form a union with 
him and as they were resting outside a little church 
when a marriage party came out he called her 
attention to their look of happiness. " Oh my 
beloved ", she said, " they are happy but it is 
because their happiness offends no one ". " Maurice 
our unhappiness must not drive us against society, 
its institutions are great and admirable through the 
efforts of the past. It is unworthy of noble souls to 
spread around them the sorrows they have to bear ". 
Personal happiness must not be bought by cheapen- 
ing the moral attainments of the race which are the 
heritage of all. ^or human beings social service 
implies loyalty to society. Only by legitimate 
means must they try to alter the conditions so that 
others may not suffer as they have done. 

She tells her friend how she could have devoted 


herself to Maurice and describes the simple joys 
and duties of family life with a longing affection, 
and cries, " What pleasures can surpass those of 
devotion ". The reputation of Maurice is dearer 
to her than her own happiness, and when they must 
part she begs him to leave her the consoling thought 
that he will 

" pour out upon society the floods of devotion 
and love that are within him ". " Generous 
feelings are delightful to experience ". " What 
destiny can be grander or sweeter than that of 
a man who is useful in his generation '*. 

Clotilde had also written much poetry but she 
destroyed it nearly all as not worth preserving. We 
have only two poems of hers, a few lines to child- 
hood, called " Innocence " and the charming lyric 
or "canzone*, as Comte called it, "The Thoughts of 
a Flower ". This has been ably translated into 
English but, as is the case of so much French poetry, 
the elusive charm cannot be caught in another 
language. It has the beautiful fetichistic expression 
characteristic of true art. 

, Such was Clotilde de Vaux when she and Auguste 
(Jbmte met, he, the man, the philosopher, who had 
by steady labour and profound insight carried the 
positive spirit and method up to sociology, and she, 
the woman, the artist, who had by the depth of her 
feeling carried it into the highest region of all, 
personal morality. * 



npHEY met for the first time at the end of 1844, 
J. but they already knew something of each other. 
To -Madame de Vaux Comte was the eminent thinker 
and philosopher who had recognised her brother's 
merit and whom her brother revered, and Comte 
already knew a little, and soon learned more, of her 
sorrows and of her refusal of a life of luxury and 

In the following April their intimacy began. The 
year from this time until the April of 1846, when 
Madame de Vaux died, has been called the " year 
of years ", the tc peerless year ", the " year with- 
out compare ", a year of gradually deepening affec- 
tion and of mutual understanding and appreciation. 
Although they were constantly meeting, one hundred 
and eighty letters were exchanged between them, 
wonderful letters marked by perfect candour, their 
inner thoughts and temptations, their hopes and their 
aspirations are acknowledged with a transparent 
sincerity seldom to be found. 

The friendship affected them very differently. 


To Clotilde, still occupied with her sorrow and with 
her voluntary separation from the man she loved, 
it was a solace and an inspiration. In her first 
letter she writes: " I hope that your beautiful and 
noble teachings may sometimes find their way into 
my heart and mind " ; but in the heart and mind of 
Auguste Comte it wrought a revolution which was 
almost terrible. A great and noble love coming for 
the first time to a man in his maturity, like maternity 
to a mature woman, has an intensity unknown to 
youth, and Comte loved Clotilde with this passionate 
intensity. ' It was a new birth for him, upon his 
starved and lonely heart this new sweet feeling fell 
like rain upon the parched land, and awakened new 
life within him. He knew what this would mean to 
his work, it had come at the right moment. Through 
weary years he had struggled on and laid the 
foundation for the regeneration he had foreseen, 
now the new impulse would enable him to fulfil his 
remaining task with a deeper knowledge of human 
life and love. 

The strain as he began to realise this was great 
and his health was upset. He could not sleep, and 
his illness in 1826 recurred to his memory. Sophie, 
his faithful servant, who had tended him with 
silent sympathy all through the time of his separa- 
tion from his wife, thought it was this that was 
still troubling him and redoubled her care and 

In May he told Clotilde of his feeling for her; 
her answer was sad, she had hoped that their 
friendship would have led to their happiness, she 
F 81 


suffered in the thought that it was not so, she 
begged him to put aside such thoughts. He 
promised to try and transform his feelings, speaking 
of the noble re-awakening she had given to his 
desire for moral regeneration. She consented to 
continue the friendship if he would avoid embar- 
rassing subjects and wrote: " I should reproach 
myself all my life if I brought trouble to a sensitive 

On the day of St. Clotilde, Madame de Vaux's 
fete, he sent her as an offering his " Letter on 
Social Commemoration ", in which he pointed out 
how the positive doctrine will appeal to women 
because it puts moral teaching above political 
agitation. He was anxious to show her that far 
from being irreligious positivism embodies all past 
religions. The cherishing of memories is one of the 
most important of religious observances uniting the 
past, present, and future. In antiquity it reached 
apotheosis, but could not be extended to the lower 
castes. The beatification of Catholicism was a great 
advance as it was bestowed on the poor as well as 
on the powerful, on St. Genevi&ve as well as St. 
Clotilde. In positivism it will be perfected by 
periodically recalling the memory of the worthy and 
in drawing them from all classes, races and beliefs. 
Every type of human character will be honoured, 
Catholicism was too narrow for this, not even 
admitting all of its own noble examples. The 
effect of baptismal names will also re-appear for it 
springs from the tendency of human nature to 
venerate noble types, and to take them as models. 



Positivism does not come to destroy, its object 
is to construct, and it combines into one harmonious 
whole all that the past offers of the grand or of the 
useful. Everywhere it separates the fundamental 
purpose from the passing form in which it was 
clothed. The earlier systems pass away as their 
power of protecting 'the social truths of which they 
were the confused expression fails. Real or positive 
conceptions as they gain ground will be found better 
adapted than fictitious to noble human purposes. 

Feeling the depth of his affection, Clotilde told 
him in her next letter of the state of her heart and 
that never under any circumstances could she be 
more to him than a sister. 

It was a severe blow to Comte to learn that the 
heart he longed to win was already given to another 
but he was deeply touched by the confidence she 
had shown him, he will not give up their friendship 
but he will transform his feeling and he will re- 
double his love for Humanity. 

Returning her confidence he told her of his period 
of insanity. 

He then refers to her writing, for all through this 
year of deep personal emotion neither of them forgot 
the work to which both had dedicated their lives. 
He advises her about her literary career: " Never 
let that degenerate into a trade (metier) which ought 
only to result from spontaneous inspiration "; and 
he warns her not to develop her talent at the expense 
of truth and purity. He had no doubt heard that 
in " Lucie ", which was just being published, she 
upheld divorce. *^He told her how his own experience 



would have led him to desire divorce but he had 
seen its social harm, and then he adds : 

" Humanity is in travail for total regeneration, 
may you have the noble ambition to second her 
worthily instead of blindly hindering her ". 

When he wrote again he had read " Lucie ", and 
had seen how entirely it was written with the noble 
ambition of which he had spoken, the ambition to 
second Humanity worthily by upholding J;he social 
bonds she had created through the love and labour 
of so many generations. The divorce Clotilde 
desired, he found, was only in those extreme cases 
when the continuance of the bond would almost 
necessarily lead to social disorder. He told her 
that the relative nature of the positive philosophy, 
" opposed to all absolute rules," would admit 
exceptions in such cases. 

As Comte read and re-read " Lucie " and real- 
ised how much of the life of Clotilde it represented 
his love for her developed more and more towards 
adoring veneration. He saw that this charming 
and graceful woman, when she was little more than 
a girl, had, by the strength of her heart and the 
depth of her altruism, divined the human sanction 
for personal morality : " What-pleasures can surpass 
those of loving service." , Here was shown the 
identity of duty and happiness. The whole spirit 
of " Lucie " embodied the motto he later adopted 
for positivism: "Live for others." Jt was born 
in upon his mind tliat the motive power for social 



regeneration was love. Thought was but its 
minister and servant. 

Looking back upon his own past he saw it was 
his love for mankind which had led to his life's 
work, without it all his mental power would not have 
availed, and as he dwelt on the past he felt how 
little he had understood the social meaning of 
personal conduct. \He thought of his mother, 
Rosalie, who had striven to train him in right 
conduct, and how he had thrown aside her teaching, 
and in doing so had brought about the misery of his 
own life, how he had helped to degrade still further 
the downtrodden victims of civilisation, he thought 
of Pauline and the hearth he had desecrated, the 
husband he had dishonoured, how his own marriage 
had been carried out in defiance of the wishes and 
feelings of those he should have considered ; as he 
thought of these things he felt unworthy of her who 
had revealed true love tp him in his later days, he 
was " convicted of sin. 11 The apostle of truth who 
had begun to appreciate beauty became the apostle 

( The vision, blinding him for the moment by its 
intensity, as in the case of St. Paul, helped him to 
see more clearly for the rest of his life/ The full 
nature of Humanity was gradually revealed to him. 
He saw that the influence Rosalie had upon his 
childhood was of the same nature as that which 
Clotilde had on his maturity, together it formed the 
human morality tending to repress selfish feelings, 
and develop tenderness and consideration for others. 
He had deliberately put himself under the opposite 



influence, he had followed Duessa and the love 
which led downwards, and cast aside that of Una 
which would have " imparadised " his soul. 

So his maturer thought began to take shape and 
the means by which the collective action of 
Humanity is brought about, which later he defines 
so clearly, was made manifest. 

He wrote to Clotilde in August: " My growth in 
universal love has increased under the constant 
stimulus of our pure affection >f . From the day of 
St. Clotilde his love had been purified : 

" Let us hope my Clotilde that this sincere fra- 
ternal affection may beautify all the remainder 
of our private life, at the same time, it will, I 
am sure, make the whole of our public life more 
perfect ". " To you alone I dare speak freely 
of all the developments concerning the moral 
grandeur of man of which I have dreamed. 11 

" Lucie " was published in the " National " and 
an offer was made to Madame de Vaux to become 
a regular contributor. Comte dreaded the effect of 
journalistic writing on her especially as Marrast, 
whom he distrusted, was the editor. 

At this time she planned her novel "Wilhelmine" 
in which the heroine was to " strike upon all the 
shoals of passion still preserving her purity and was 
gradually to reach the fulness of family life ". 
" I try to keep her pure of heart while erratic in 
mind because I am reserving her for a work of 
wisdom she will accomplish under the new philo- 



sophic direction M , later, she says that she only 
means to " make her a philosopher in heart, loving 
Humanity without fear of Hell or hope of Heaven": 

" What I understand best in the ipth century 'is 
the universal tendency of people to simple good 
sense. Seeing how the mind can derive the benefit 
of all discovery naturally and without effort I see 
more clearly every day that science only needs to 
be at the head of society to enrich it throughout, 
and so I console myself for not having learned the 
wonders of the square of the hypotenuse M . 

Both were endeavouring to advancer in their public 
work by the help of their tranquillised affection. 
But a severe storm lay before them; Clotilde, full of 
admiration for the noble philosopher who had 
honoured her with his friendship and adoration, 
pierced to the heart by the thought of his loneliness 
and suffering, dreading that his preoccupation with 
her would delay his work, and also, no doubt, 
impelled by the desire of maternity, the one personal 
feeling which was strong within her, suddenly 
decided to do as he wished, to accept his protection 
and all the duties of family life. 

The rapture with which Comte received the letter 
containing this decision can be imagined, to her, 
to whom he had already owed the " purest and 
sublimest emotion " of his life, he will now owe 
" unhoped for happiness " in that part of his life 
when he had expected " awful loneliness ". Is 
there the faintest trace of disappointment that the 
idol should step down from the pedestal ? For the 
first time there is in both a thought of caution and 



concealment. However this may be, it is lost in the 
shock Comte received from a letter written three days 
later in which Clotilde withdrew her offer. Even 
in a letter written between the two she speaks of 
him as " her tender father " shewing how little her 
feeling corresponded to the suggested relationship 
between them. 

In those three days Clotilde, the modern woman, 
had made the great discovery, a discovery im- 
possible before the emancipation of woman, which 
came when she was able to give herself instead of 
being given. Clotilde found that she could not 
give herself without love. She had discovered that 
the crime between the sexes was the giving oneself 
without love. 

Striving towards this truth Shelley was persecuted 
and his character blackened in the conventional time 
of George III in England. For no cause should 
man or woman give themselves without love, not 
even the desire of maternity which had prevailed 
with so many women can justify it. For mutual 
reverent love should precede maternity and should 
make the atmosphere about the growing child be he 
the result of the marriage or the child of adoption. 
To the sanction which society gives this inner 
sanctity must be added to create a true marriage. 

The difficult question of divorce would settle itself 
if the hearts of men and women inclined to keep 
this law, for even if some aberration came to one of 
the pair in such a marriage, the memory of true love 
would make the innocent one desire to help and save 
the guilty. Clotilde, her Lucie, and Comte had all 



given themselves without love, the two former from 
the circumstances of the time when Dante's words 
did not apply to woman : 

" Libero, dritto, e sano tuo arbitrio 

e fallo fora non fare a suo senno 
per ch'io te sopra te corona e mi trio" 

(Purgatorio 27). 

and the latter by his own act. These then were 
typical of the unhappy marriages which were the 

The heart of Clotilde had again led her right and 
guided her to the highest personal morality. " All 
marriages ", she wrote later, " where there is only 
consent on one side end unhappily, perfect agree- 
ment is necessary for true love ". 

The unconscious recognition of this truth has 
often led artists to choose the irregular union where 
this love existed as more typical of the true marriage 
bond than the loveless marriage. So Dante in the 
Middle Age and Watts in the igth century chose 
the story of Paolo and Francesca to shew the union 
which neither Pain nor Death, no nor even Sin 
nor Hell could sever. 

It is very evident that at the time Comte would 
not be able to see it in this light. He felt Clotilde's 
withdrawal bitterly and for a moment regarded it 
as feminine caprice, but his veneration for her almost 
immediately induced him to accept her decision and 
he wrote on the tenth: " I resume 'then without 
effort my dear habits of chivalrous tenderness ". 
From this time the letters express their growing 


attachment, his shewing increasing devotion and 
hers a deepening admiration and tenderness. 

Her letters abound in delicate and charming ex- 
pressions, shewing her consideration for others and 
her desire to make the best of the actual human 
beings around her, which had such an effect on 
Comte's after life, softening the harshness of his 
judgments, and developing the sympathy which 
became so marked in his later years. One of her 
expressions is: "the evil drug fault finding " ; 
another: "Our race more than others requires 
duties to develop feelings ". 

After the crisis between them she told him more 
of her past suffering and added : "I have under- 
stood better than anyone the weakness of our nature 
when it is not directed to a lofty aim beyond the 
reach of our passions ". Although worn out with 
the struggle of life she feels she can teach others 
and says " that remains a real interest in my life ". 

He rejoiced in her determination to work and 
trembled whether he should remain worthy of one 
who in the midst of anarchy had devoted herself 
to spreading the moral lessons she had learned in 
her own life. 

In November Clotilde wrote: "I look upon 
myself as so much surrounded by your honourable 
and holy protection that I shall regard you with the 
simplicity and confidence of a child ", and, in 
another letter, she says he has been able " to revive 
a fainting soul and pour balm into a fainting 
heart ". 


In December he wrote to her : 

" Instead of forgetting our differences of sex let 
us by common consent put this to its noblest 
purpose, the mutual improvement of our nature 
both intellectual and affective ". 

And she wrote to him : 

' ' I place you with all my heart upon the pedestal 
you are raising for me, it better becomes you 
than me ". <( May I be able to prove to you 
better than by words my affection, esteem and 
respect. Whatever be our fate I hope that 
death alone will break the bond founded upon 
these feelings ". 

In January she wrote : 

" I raise you above my daily troubles like a 
banner destined to overcome them, a true 
attachment is the finest emblem to display 
before the enemy ". 

Clotilde continued her novel in spite of the 
increasing difficulties of ill-health; she asked Comte 
to write her something about marriage from the 
Positive point of view to include in it and he 
responded by the fine " Philosophical letter on 
Marriage " which is published with his works. In 
it he traced the development of marriage through 
its earlier stages, and pointed out that the new 
philosophy would carry it to higher perfection and 
develop it to finer issues. Clotilde read it with 
keen interest and in the letter of thanks uses the 


expression: " We all have one foot in the air over 
the threshold of truth ". In February she wrote: 

" Souls full of scruples and ardour meet with 
many a Golgotha in this world but at least they 
often escape regret and remorse ". 

The devotion between the two intensified, Clotilde 
however, insisting on the necessity of her independ- 
ence both in heart and conduct, she must not be 
doubted or controlled, she claims complete trust. 

Comte was never tired of expressing his gratitude 
to her for the regeneration she had wrought in his 
life. He did little this year but it was truly a case 
of " reculer pour mieux sauter " for all his future 
work was influenced by this " peerless year ". He 
had many anxieties, as his letters to Mill shew, his 
means of existence were precarious, the three 
Englishmen were not prepared to continue their 
contributions and he had to seek lessons again. 
But all these things were as nothing, he was so 
occupied with the love in his heart. 

Their increasing attachment was not looked upon 
with favour by Madame Marie and her son 
Maximilien and this led to increasing friction which, 
unfortunately, became acute as the life of Clotilde 
drew towards its end. The ardent feeling of Comte 
and his anxiety for her health which he did not 
think they sufficiently considered, made him appro- 
priate her in a way displeasing to them and, 
greatly as he admired her desire for harmony, his 
nature was not yet sufficiently disciplined to enable 
him to bear with them. 



In her last letter written on the 8th of March 
Clotilde wrote : 

" Your affection makes me very happy and 
sometimes very thoughtful, I cannot help 
thinking that some day you will reproach me 
with these violent distractions affecting your 
public life . . . You make a mistake when you 

say there is no love in friendship If we 

could both talk calmly I would prove to you 
that friendship can be loving and brave, that 
is why I honour our attachment by all the 
sweetest and holiest names I can find ". 

Comte had begged her to accept the services of 
Sophie during her illness and a deep attachment 
grew up between them. Sophie had an adoring 
feeling for this charming and gifted woman who 
depended upon her in her weakness and she served 
her with that self forgetting devotion which is found 
nowhere in greater perfection than in the domestic 
relation; and Clotilde clung to her in confiding 
trust. They became sisters in heart, and this 
friendship was an earnest of the entire disappear- 
ance of class feeling amongst women, whose work is 
essentially the same, that of creating, educating 
and tending the children of the future. 

It was in Sophie's sympathetic ear that Clotilde 
breathed her tender confession that Auguste Comte 
had at last won her complete affection and that her 
heart was wholly his. Sophie listened sadly as she 
talked of the happiness which lay before " we 



three ", for sh'e knew 'that Clotilde' s days were 
numbered. Still, she rejoiced that she would have 
the satisfaction of telling Comte that this supreme 
gift was his, and she watched and tended her with 
unwearying care for eighteen nights until the last 
hour drew nigh; then Clotilde said to Comte with 
loving pity: "You will not have had your com- 
panion long ". " Comte ", she said later, " Re- 
member I have suffered without having deserved 
it ", and then this " beautiful soul " passed into 
the land of memory and gratitude. 

Who can picture the grief of Comte ! The pent 
up feelings of a life-time were concentrated on her. 
She was his all, he had not then realised what 
Sophie would become to him. He knew she was a 
" perfect servant " but could not guess she would 
become to him a daughter and faithful disciple. 
The whole treasure of his heart was in Clotilde and 
she was no more. 

Two things saved him, his social mission always 
present to his mind, and the fact that she was now 
associated with him in that mission. It was for him 
to make her worth known to the world, for now he 
knew that for the foundation of the religion of 
Humanity, for the comprehension of that social 
being made up of men and women, man alone was 
not sufficient; the intimate and complete co-opera- 
tion of the sexes was necessary. Now the two were 
summed up in his brain it was for him to carry on 
their joint work. Beatrice had inspired Dante 
throughout his life by the young vision of her 
beauty and purity, Clotilde' s influence would never 



pass away from his life, and she was not only an 
inspirer, like Beatrice, but also an active co-operator ; 
had she not been the first to perceive the human 
sanction for personal morality? 

With brave heart and determined courage he 
turned again to his life's work. 


" We meet again 
within the minds of men " 

Shelley, Revolt of Islam. 

HE began at once to organise his inner life so 
that Clotilde should be always with him and 
then, a week after her death, he decided to recom- 
mence the " Positive Polity " adding to it a 
chapter, " The General View ", and to write the 
Dedication to Clotilde which he had planned in her 
lifetime. He had nerved himself . immediately to 
receive a visit from George Henry Lewes which had 
been arranged before. He wrote to Mrs. Austin who 
was again in Paris, telling her of his loss and 
pointing out how the new philosophy reconciled the 
needs of the heart and mind. With his letter he 
sent a copy of " Lucie ". Mrs. Austin, having 
read it replied : " Alas ! we can see too well the 
sufferings of a noble and tender soul, one sees also 
a clear and lofty mind which has been able to 
surmount its own hopes, regarding them as ex- 
ceptional, not affecting the important rules of life. 
Few of us attain this rare merit; I regret her for 
you and for myself, she would have been a precious 
friend for me. She is to be envied ". 



He wrote to his friend Mill telling him of 
Clotilde's death and of the loss it was to the world, 
as in spite of her own unhappy experience she had 
decided, on his suggestion, to devote her literary 
powers to upholding the sanctity of marriage 
attacked in the writings of a great Frenchwoman 
of the day. He told him also, in answer to Mill's 
enquiries, of his straitened circumstances and that 
the slight economy he had planned of moving into 
a smaller apartment would be too painful now as 
the memories of the visits of his beloved friend 
were connected with his present home. He had 
need of such sympathy as his friend could give for 
there was much to try him apart from his absorbing 
sorrow. Madame Marie and Maximilen refused to 
let him have the MS. of Wilhelmine which Clotilde 
had promised to him on her death-bed. Captain 
Marie, her father, opposed their action in this 
matter but his opposition was of no avail and, as 
a matter of fact, this MS. still remains in the Marie 

On the first visit to the grave of Clotilde he had 
striven to lay aside all irritation. These visits, and 
his times of communing with her, were no mere 
indulgence in sentiment. He had set himself the 
task of becoming like her, he had seen her constant 
consideration for others, her scrupulous respect for 
the family, and her attempt to make the best of all 
around, and the remaining eleven years of his life 
were one long effort to incorporate her nature in 
his own. 

We have seen him as the hero pursuing his task 
G 97 


through almost impossible conditions, allowing 
neither domestic misery, poverty, nor terrible illness 
to turn him aside; as the sage gathering all the 
knowledge of the past into one harmonious whole, 
now he began the gradual ascent which was to make 
him one of the greatest of saints. He had been 
stern and harsh in judgment, even suspicious in his 
relations with his own family and with the Maries. 
He had accused his sister and the Maximilien Maries 
of mercenary views. With regard to Alix, he may 
have had some experience, of which we know 
nothing, but certainly Madame Maximilien Marie, 
who tenderly and reverently cherished the memory 
of Clotilde through so many years, keeping a vivid 
picture in her mind of her sweet beauty, showed 
herself pure in heart. 

Indeed, how could he have been a saint at this 
time, the asceticism and self-torture of a St. Simon 
Stylites may be attained in solitude but the qualities 
which make the human saint do not flourish untended 
in the heart. In the words of Madame de Stael, 
who was as truly the spiritual predecessor of Clotilde 
as Condorcet was of Comte : 

" L'ame qui n'a jamais connu le bonheur ne peut 
6tre parfaitement bonne et douce. Si je conserve 
encore quelque secheresse dans le caract&re, c'est 
& ces ann6es de douleur que je la dois ". 

He was a man of forty-eight years and for thirty- 
nine of those years he had lived without the happy 
family life in which acts of loving service become 
self-fulfilment rather than self-denial. His firm 



determination to endure his wife's infidelity and 
importunity, and not to expect tenderness, was 
discipline perhaps, but rather tended to isolation 
and spiritual pride than to the growth of sympathy. 
The wonder rather is that directly he came in 
contact with Clotilde's truly human nature he 
recognised its beauty and made it the model of 
his life. He saw what was needed for the com- 
pletion of his task. 

Like Christian, he stumbled in ascending the Hill 
Difficulty; he had to go down into the Valley of 
Humiliation before he reached the Land of Beulah 
and the Celestial City. He shewed in his own life 
the inner meaning of prayer, he carried to Clotilde's 
grave, at his weekly visits, and to his daily com- 
muning with her, all his sorrows, hopes and joys; 
trying everything by the test of his ideal, he 
resembled it more and more. 

It was born in upon his heart how much he owed 
to his mother Rosalie ; it had been her early training 
which had left its effects and had enabled him to 
respond, so long after, to a similar influence. 
Rosalie planted, Clotilde watered, and Humanity 
gave the increase. 

In May, he recommenced his free public course 
on astronomy, prefacing it with some introductory 
lectures on the general spirit of positivism. At one 
of these lectures he said : " I hope a public demon- 
stration in favour of Jeanne d'Arc will soon replace 
the shameful glorification of Bonaparte ". He 
paused, doubting how this would be received as 
Bonaparte was the popular idol, but to his surprise 



there was a storm of applause beyond anything that 
had ever been given him before. It was led by an 
old workman. 

His large audience, partly composed of Parisian 
workmen, appreciated him and it was their custom 
to thank him warmly at the end of each course. 
Here, in the following year, 1847, dealing with the 
influence of women at the time of the year at which 
Clotilde had died, and feeling the sympathy of his 
audience, he was led on to speak of her, of her 
influence on positivism and of his own loss. He was 
listened to with respectful sympathy and even deep 
emotion. As the audience went quietly out a 
fashionably dressed man spoke loudly and coarsely 
of the incident, upon which a working man, usually 
one of the most silent, reproved him with indignant 
irony shrugging his shoulders contemptuously. A 
low murmur of approval followed this reproof and 
the fine gentleman slunk away. The hearts of the 
Parisian workmen rang true and responded to 
genuine feeling. 

At the end of this course he proclaimed the dogma 
of Humanity amidst the respectful attention of these 
same workmen : 

" Humanity the only true great being, whose 
necessary members we are, concentrating always 
upon Her our thoughts that we may know Her, 
our affections that we may love Her, and our actions 
that we may serve Her ". 

The death of Clotilde was followed shortly by 
the death of a friend Charles Bonnin who although 
an old man had become one of his devoted followers, 
and by the news that his father had been deprived 



of his post as public cashier. He resolved to try 
and heal the breach between himself and his family 
and wrote expressing his sympathy. Unfortunately, 
he did not mention his sister, and on his father's 
resenting this the reconciliation fell through. 
Although there were other attempts, the final 
reconciliation only took place two years before his 

He had been cheered a few days after his loss 
by a letter from Holland signed by three engineer 
officers speaking of their admiration of his work, 
which they considered completed that of Bacon and 
Descartes, and enclosing a copy of a Dutch transla- 
tion of the first two chapters of the " Positive 
Philosophy J) . It helped him to be assured at this 
moment that the " Philosophy " was already 
spreading into the countries of Europe. 

In the autumn he wrote the Dedication to Madame 
de Vaux, perhaps the noblest prose elegy ever 
penned. In it the social point of view is ever 
present, he speaks of the universal progress towards 
perfection being in both of them the principal aim. 
Both had felt that feeling must be supreme, not 
hampering but giving direction to the intellect, but 
she had helped him to realise this more fully, through 
her he had experienced the re-action of pure personal 
love on philosophic thought. They had both felt 
the necessity of the union of the sexes in the 
regeneration of mankind. As in the individual 
nothing can come without harmony between the 
mind and heart, so all social improvement needs the 
co-operation of man and woman : 



" Both of us clearly understood this beautiful ad- 
justment of functions related and independent". 
" between two services so indispensable there 
could be no question of preference ". 

" The highest purpose of our union was to make 
our hearts more perfect and that purpose can 
still be pursued with delight, even though the in- 
tercourse of feeling is active on one side only ". 

" If a whole life hardly suffices for two beings to 
know and love each other thoroughly why should 
death break off the continuity of sympathy >f . 

" Henceforth I give myself exclusively to the 
noble civic passion which from earliest youth 
devoted every energy of my being to the great 
work of regeneration M . 

" Your silent aid cannot be taken from me, 
during our sacred year of happiness your sweet 
impulse mingled, far more than you could ever 
believe, with my highest philosophic inspirations. 
The same blest influence has been with me the 
last six months, aiding my thoughts as they 
moved onwards in the midst of tears. Wisely 
cherished it will continue to purify and kindle 
my highest thoughts ". 

" Farewell loved pupil, true f ellow- worker ! Thy 
angel influence will govern what remains to me 
of life, whether public or private, ever urging 
me onwards towards perfection, purifying 
feelings, enlarging thought and ennobling 
conduct ". 



" Thus only can thy benefits now be recognised, 
by rendering my own performance of the 
mighty task before me more complete ". 

The Dedication of which these few extracts may 
give some idea was completed on the 4th of October, 
the anniversary of 'the day on which Clotilde had 
given him a lock of her hair which they called 
" Le don du coeur M . During this year Comte also 
made several preliminary attempts at the Table of 
the Soul or Psycho-Analytic Table, the perfected 
form of which has been given at the head of the 
3rd chapter. 

His constant religious musings revealed to him 
the personal nature of the instincts of race preserva- 
tion both sexual and maternal and gradually 
purified his desires. 

He was passing through a time of material 
difficulty. His means were so straitened that the 
payment of the allowance to Madame Comte was 
delayed. This distressed him, as he had been most 
scrupulous towards her in this respect. In January, 
1847, he received a letter from her threatening to 
return to him if the allowance were not paid, he 
answered sternly, that if ever she made this attempt 
he should apply for a legal separation, assuring her 
at the same time that as soon as possible the money 
should be paid. 

In this letter he told her of his relationship with 
Clotilde. Wishing she should know before it became 
public he had asked two friends to tell her but 
neither had found courage to do so, he now said 



that, painful as it was to tell her this, he felt it 
right that she should know it. 

In spite of all attempts to repress and silence him 
he was becoming known and a body of enthusiastic 
disciples were drawing round him. Among these 
was the young Pierre Laffitte whose affectionate 
nature and quick intellect was a real solace to him. 
Three evenings a week Laffitte visited the master, 
eagerly drinking in his teaching. Sometimes they 
went for long country walks when Comte would pour 
out his grand ideas in eloquent words to the delight 
of his pupil, for his conversational powers were extra- 
ordinarily brilliant, and, sustained as they were by 
his intense faith and wide knowledge, enthralled 
his hearers. Once when he was in the full flow of 
eloquence a little child ran up to him and asked 
him the time, interrupting the current of his thoughts. 
When the child was gone Laffitte expressed his 
annoyance but Comte with one of his rare tender 
smiles pointed out that the child had paid him a 
compliment, had practically expressed his confidence 
in him. 

There is another anecdote that one day a friend 
complained that his literary style was too heavy, 
and asked if he could not lighten it, upon which he 
answered: "My friend, my work is to make 
wholesome bread for the people. If I wanted to 
make meringues do you suppose I could not do it" ? 

A later saying, which must have been told by the 
man to whom it was said, is of graver import. 
Comte, stopping one day at a book-stall, saw a 
young man, to whom he was attached, reading a 



book which he saw was a prurient novel. Putting 
his hand affectionately on his shoulder, " How long 
my friend ", he said, " will you commit self -abuse 
on your brain ? 

Owing to Laffitte's sympathy he was able to tell 
him much of his sorrow in the loss of Clotilde. 
Laffitte expressed his belief that some day a grate- 
ful posterity would bury them in a common grave. 
After this Comte took him to the sacred spot where 
she lay and pointed out a neighbouring place where 
he wished to be buried, and it was here that his 
sorrowing disciples laid him eleven years later. 

But an even more intimate and cherished help was 
vouchsafed him. Sophie, the " perfect servant ", 
shared in his adoring love for Clotilde, and they 
constantly spoke of her together, he was led on 
to speak of his hopes for the world and gradually 
the loving heart and strong intelligence of this 
simply nurtured woman made her one of his most 
convinced and devoted disciples. At the time of 
the Revolution of 1848 she said " Philosophers 
should brave arms without carrying them ". About 
that time Comte took her husband and son to live 
with him that Sophie might have the full happiness 
of family life, he blamed himself that he had not 
thought of this before, pointing out how much 
easier it is to think of oneself than of others; but 
his constant worship of the type of tenderness and 
purity was rapidly softening his whole nature and 
he was creating loving bonds with all around him. 

Later he adopted Sophie as his daughter and she 
watched over him with tender care until his death. 


Revolution of 1848 had long been foreseen 
JL by Comte, he saw that a constitutional monarchy 
was entirely unsuited to the genius of the French 
people who had been accustomed to consider the 
king personally responsible for the action of the 
government. The middle class ministries of the 
reign of Louis Philippe had retained much that was 
undesirable from the old imperial days, they gave 
titles, crosses and epaulets, they copied the English 
parliamentary system but limited the power of voting 
to the owners of property, refusing to allow the 
formation of trade unions or public meetings for the 
free discussion of opinion. They had no settled 
policy except their desire for peace. The people 
had been promised security of employment with 
wages sufficient to bring up a family and provide 
for rest in old age so they now wanted the right 
to unite to enable them to attain what had been 
promised; the indifference of the governing classes 
turned them towards communism. 

At the time of this revolution the Republicans 
were divided into three groups composed of, first, 

1 06 


the conservatives who wished to keep the rule of 
the middle class, replacing the king by an elected 
president, second, the socialists, who wanted to do 
away with central administration, to destroy the 
army, confiscate the endowment of churches and 
impose their reorganisation at once by law and, 
third, the little band of men united under Comte 
in the Positivist Society who recognised social law, 
that the present must grow out of the past, and that 
free scope should be given to the natural develop- 
ment of the State. To maintain order in the midst 
of disorder was the task of statesmen. 

The Positivist Society met in Comte' s Apartment 
and appointed committees to report upon the different 
questions occupying public attention. Magnin, a 
workman, drew up the report on the labour problem 
which advised that, while waiting for the regenera- 
tion of opinion, government should intervene to 
diminish the most crying evils, to encourage wiser 
and more disinterested actions among the chiefs 
and to uphold industry which was the basis of 
the future order. Littrc drew up the report on the 
form of government, which advised that it should 
be republican with the device of " Order and 
Progress ", that there should be an elected Dictator 
who could be deposed and replaced in case of need, 
that the budget should finally be under the control 
of the leaders of industry but should for a time be 
entrusted to a triumvirate of eminent working-men, 
that the army should be reduced and transformed 
into police, that the church and university endow- 
ments should be abolished and people left free to 



decide whether theology, metaphysics or positivism 
should be the basis of the spiritual power, and that 
the past should be glorified. To meet this last need, 
Comte published his historic calendar in which men 
of many countries who have taken part in the 
Western transition are honoured. 

Comte's followers were not listened to, their leader 
had long been subjected to what has been called the 
" conspiracy of silence ". They were mostly young 
workmen who continued to meet during Comte 1 s life, 
but their numbers were much diminished after 
Napoleon's coup d'etat in 1851 when Comte coun- 
selled the acceptance of the new government as an 
accomplished fact trusting that Napoleon would 
keep his word and respect the Republic. The word 
of the Napoleons proved as little to be depended 
upon as that of the English Stuarts and when 
Napoleon re-established the Empire Comte expressed 
strong disapprobation. 

Comte' s old enemy Arago was appointed to an 
important position, and being convinced that he had 
written too harshly of Arago and hoping now to 
strengthen his hands Comte made a public apology 
which led to a sympathetic touch with his father and 
sister who approved of his action. His sister wrote : 
" It needs a great courage and a noble heart to say 
in public that one has been wrong ". 

Arago never acknowledged the apology and con- 
tinued his animosity as shown by the fact that Comte 
was still passed over in the appointments at the 
Polytechnic, although he was on two occasions put 
first on the list by Poinsot whose business it was 

1 08 


to choose the most suitable candidates for the 
appointments. His free lectures for the Parisian 
workmen were also stopped on the pretext that no 
hall could be found for them ! 

He wished to seize the moment of the Revolution 
to publish his " General View of Positivism ", for 
it was by change of opinion not by law that harmony 
could be attained : 

" Written laws do not create social order but 
only preserve it when it has been created ". 

But he was destitute, how could he print the 
" General View J> from which he expected so much? 
Three Dutch disciples came to the rescue and paid 
for the publication. Comte felt it contained the 
germ of the religion of Humanity which would not 
be lost to the world even if death should now put 
an end to his labours. 

His situation was desperate and he feared he 
would have to give up the beloved home and perhaps 
even sell the furniture so connected with his past. 
Again help came at the time of need. Sophie had 
for some time begged to be allowed to lend him her 
savings and she now insisted and her husband 
seconded her wish, the six hundred francs she had 
saved were placed at his disposal, a sacred trust in 
his eyes of which the grace and devotion were 
constantly before him. Then his landlord granted 
him delay more than once for the payment of his 
rent. These things could have been but a passing 
help had not Littre decided to institute a fund to 
which those who valued his teaching or pitied him 



for the persecution to which he had been subjected, 
might subscribe. Comte in speaking of it describes 
it as: 

" the spontaneous inauguration of republican 
manners, the new chivalry, which will paralyse 
dangerous oppression ". 

For three years from this time at mid-day on 
Sunday he preached the religion of Humanity at the 
Palais Royal to an audience of women, students and 
workmen, eloquently recalling the whole of the past, 
unfolding the progress lof the future, and then, 
returning to the present, pointing out the path of 
social advance. .Many young men became earnest 
positivists and the name of the Master was honoured 
but the Press still remained silent. 

Among the letters written at this period is one to 
Williamson, professor at the London University 
College, in which, after speaking with approval of 
much of his letter and especially of the axiom, 
" Everyone has enough benevolence to wish he had 
more ", he points out his errors. Williamson had 
suggested that Paris would be the centre of the 
Spiritual Power and London of the Temporal, and 
that England would rule the rest of mankind. 
Comte replied that such an opinion could not exist 
outside England, that he was exaggerating collective 
differences which tended to disappear while individual 
differences tended to increase. With civilisation each 
country would more completely represent Humanity. 
Also that the Temporal Power allows of no one 
centre, it is local, and its concentration would mean 



tyranny and a struggle between London and Paris, 
resembling that between Rome and Germany in the 
Middle Ages. Industry tends to the dispersion of 
centres, whereas science unites. Peace and the 
removal of all tariff prohibitions will dispose each 
nation to the industry best suited to her condition. 
The spiritual power' was not local, and England 
should not give up her share in it to which her 
glorious past entitled her. 

He urged one young friend who had just lost his 
father to surround his mother with care and con- 
sideration, telling him he had failed in this himself 
and would not like him to suffer from the self- 
reproach he had had to bear. 

Another he urged to be open with his parents as 
to his opinions, telling them reverently and trusting 
to their consideration, " untruth fulness ", he added, 
" and weakness heal nothing M . 

To his beloved young friend Laffitte, he poured 
out his hopes in many letters, and discussed with 
him the houses and the possessions of the workmen, 
the future arrangements and the government of 
France, the education of the people and the establish- 
ment of the religion, " the coming of the religion 
as bringing an era of true repose of heart and mind 
a truly normal state towards which all the other 
states were but preparations ". 

At this time he hoped that Laffitte would be capable 
of being his successor. He considered him mentally 
efficient and told him of the two meanings of the 
word Heart; he did not lack tenderness but was 
deficient in energy or, in other words, while his 



heart and mind were fit, character was lacking, and 
he urged him to strengthen this in every way. There 
was real sympathy between them, as he expressed 
a thought Laffette seized it at once sometimes com- 
pleting it before he had done so himself. 

In another letter he says that the duty of the 
Spiritual Power is to classify men by their moral 
worth, independently of rank, and this classification, 
he adds, prevails after death, which, instead of 
levelling all, brings out the personal inequalities 
sometimes hidden in life by outward circumstances. 
Equality is impossible, it is fraternity we need, and 
the greatest care should be taken in the use of 
language by those whose mission was reorganisation, 
he himself hoped always to deserve the reproach of 
" prudery" in philosophic language Mill once gave 
him. He longed to give to others the moral and 
mental ardour growing in his soul. 

In another letter he speaks of substituting for the 
sanguinary banner of the Revolution the green 
banner of hope with the intellectual and moral 
mottoes, " Order and Progress " " Live for 
others ". 

At the time of his first spoliation in 1852 when 
the head of the Polytechnic wrote expressing his 
sympathy and indignation, Comte answered : 

" The only political programme suited to our 
mental and moral harmony is to maintain order 
energetically, to support the industrial order wisely 
and always to respect the spiritual movement ". 



THROUGH the devotion of Longchamp, who 
guaranteed the expense, the first volume of the 
" Polity M was published in 1851 ; it was the main 
building of which the " Philosophy " had been the 
foundation. Comte's whole nature had expanded 
since he wrote the (t Philosophy " and this had 
reacted on his mental outlook. 

The first volume consists of the Dedication already 
noticed, of the " General View ", a bird's eye view 
of positivism, which had been published before, and 
an account of the abstract sciences. The object of 
the "Polity" was to reconstruct opinion for the 
regeneration first of Europe then of the world. 

The SUBJECTIVE PRINCIPLE of the reconstruction 
was the subordination of the intellect to the heart. 
The OBJECTIVE BASIS : the external order of the 
world revealed by science. The discovery of law in 
social science satisfies the principle without danger 
to the basis. It follows that politics must be 
subordinated to morals for progress is the develop- 
ment of order. 

H 113 


The well-being of the people is the object of 
government. The leaders of industry will form 
the Temporal Power. 

The formation of public opinion involves the 
acceptance of principles of social conduct and an 
organ to teach them. This will be the priesthood. 

The united action of philosophers, women and the 
people is the moral or modifying influence in society. 
Woman's influence will be increased by the im- 
provement of marriage which is tending towards 
complete monogamy. 

There will be a wide field for art, in the con- 
struction of types and pictures of the future and 
past, in the organisation of the festivals idealising 
the different aspects of life and the commemoration 
of the dead. A doctrine encouraging man to strive 
for perfection necessarily encourages art. Ideal art 
is (after direct culture of feeling) the best help in 
our efforts to become more loving and noble. 

He then deals with the sciences. Humanity de- 
pends on the external order and law is constancy 
amid variation. Natural philosophy is divided into 
cosmology and biology. Cosmology into laws acces- 
sible and inaccessible to human intervention. The 
inaccessible can be examined by inspection only and 
they give the first idea of natural order fostering 
submission, checking pride and vanity and promoting 
social feeling, by the consciousness of a fatality 
common to all. The accessible laws, which can be 
modified, develop energy. 

The theory of the brain in biology gives clearness 
to the problem of human nature " to subordinate 



egoism to altruism ". This problem must be investi- 
gated in sociology since the solution lies in the power 
of the social state to develop the higher and repress 
the lower feelings, for moral unity can only be 
attained by the ascendency of social over personal 
feeling and practically it depends on social unity. 

Religion is the combination of love and belief 
binding the man within and connecting him with the 
outer world. " Man grows more and more 
religious ". The history of religion is the history 
of man. 

The second volume is on social statics, the 
fundamental order or constitution of any society 
whatever. Here he deals with the theory of religion, 
its object and history, with the family, the true unit 
of society, where each man and woman is trained 
by the constant stimulus of the social instincts; with 
capital on which every society depends for its 
continued existence ; with language by which its 
members communicate and the wisdom of the past 
is stored up for the benefit of the future; with the 
theory of social existence and with the limits of 
variation. All these subjects are treated exhaust- 
ively both as to their nature and history. 

The third volume on social dynamics was published 
in 1853. It is on history or the development of 
the race. In this he traced the working of the law 
of the three stages through the whole past, bringing 
to bear upon it the scrupulous accuracy which 
Gibbon shewed in his study of the comparatively 
short period of the Fall of the Roman Empire, and 
the sense of continuous growth so remarkable in 



Robertson's summary of the Middle Ages and to 
these he added the encyclopedic outlook and noble 
aim which were especially his own, these qualities he 
applies to the appreciation of every phase from the 
primitive savage to the time of the Revolution and 
unfolded with consummate skill the gradual advance 
of man under differing beliefs and conditions, each 
belief growing out of the preceding one and 
developing in Humanity in the same order as the 
corresponding phases develop in the life of the in- 
dividual. History, he says later, must be regarded 
as " a series of preparations, in the inter-dependence 
of which lies their real utility ". 

This volume alone would have been no mean 
achievement had it been the work 'of a lifetime. 
It has been described as the, almost too exciting 
sweep of the great past, and it is surely true 
that the growth of Humanity through the ages 
is the sublimest of all spectacles. Comte points 
out that these ideas were growing before his 
time, being careful to render honour to his 

Between the second and third volumes he published 
his " Catechism of Positive Religion " which was 
a summary of the larger work, intended especially 
for women and workmen. 

The fourth volume, which may be described as 
a prophecy of the future of man as organised by 
the Religion of Humanity, was published in 1854. 
Such a prophecy, he warns us, cannot be exact. 

By this time he had attained his full mental 
development, he had disentangled the highest science 



of all, that of morals, or of the individual from that 
of sociology. The table of the soul, the psycho- 
analytic table at the head of chapter III, he now 
saw as a part of the highest science. The full 
meaning of the religion of Humanity had dawned 
upon him, and in later days, he rejoiced that his 
main work was written after he had fully recognised 
science as a simple introduction to religion. 

The religion of Humanity, he shews us, takes 
possession of the future as well as of the past, and 
those who teach must be competent for this 
important task; they have to reconcile order and 
progress, the East and the West. All the religions 
of the past have been only parts of the religion of 
Humanity which incorporates them all; the com- 
pleteness of theocracy, the scientific method of 
Greece, the social purpose of Rome, and the feeling 
of the Middle Ages. 

Extending prevision to social concerns pre-supposes 
the innateness of social feelings, without this there 
would be constant uncertainty in the action of men. 
The innateness of benevolent feeling and the earth's 
motion are the bases, one subjective, the other 
objective, of the positive philosophy. 

" Humanity is the continuous whole formed of the 
beings which converge " or work together to a 
common end. This includes all animals who have 
helped mankind. 

The elements of Humanity are states and families, 
the agents individuals. She is subject to the law of 
growth and improvement, as the past clearly shews. 
She acts through individuals and the problem is to 



combine concert with independence; all action lies 
with the living but they depend upon and are 
governed by the past, and they necessarily labour 
for the future. Service is the privilege of the present 
but the excellence of Humanity is shewn by the 
dead, they indeed represent Her, but their influence 
is passed on by the living. 

Positivism secures the supremacy of love without 
degrading the intellect, which crowns love. The reign 
of Humanity is a reign of love, and to have helped 
forward the life of the future is the subjective im- 
mortality which noble souls desire, this is the 
spiritual immortality cleansed from all that is 
material or personal. 

Humanity acts, in the aggregate, by four Provi- 
dences : Moral, Intellectual, Material and General. 
The first is, generally speaking, exercised by women, 
who, by the education of children, and by their 
influence in family life, develop feeling and train to 
right conduct. To do this more perfectly they must 
be independent, that is, they should not have to 
earn their own livelihood, and they should have the 
highest education to be able to intervene wisely in 
public matters. 

This judgment of Comte on the nature of women's 
influence has been strikingly justified by the very 
feminists who opposed his teaching. In almost all 
cases their intervention in public life has been to 
protect the oppressed or to give advantages to the 
downtrodden, more and more they have insisted on 
the importance of motherhood. In Finland, the 
first results of giving votes to women were the 



teaching of domestic duties in the schools and the 
sending delegates to other countries to find the best 
method of improvement in these matters. 

The Intellectual Providence consists of all teachers, 
preachers, artists and men of science and, properly 
organised in the future, will bring the best teaching 
to every child, no m6re will education be the privilege 
of the wealthy, but all spiritual and intellectual 
treasures will be at the service of the people. The 
Intellectual Power, like the Moral, must be indepen- 
dent that it may never prostitute its gifts as a means 
of livelihood. Its members will resume the medical 
duties once in their hands as the mutual re-action of 
body and mind are fully recognised. 

The Material Providence is represented by the 
industrial concerns, headed by the Capitalists who 
will recognise that the capital has been entrusted to 
them by Humanity to use for the benefit of their 

The General Providence is composed of the mass 
of the people to which all belong when they are not 
exercising their special functions, and the work of 
this Providence is to oversee the others, to supply 
what is needed in each case, and to form the body 
of public opinion without which all teaching, law or 
sentiment is vain. 

Comte then gives his forecast of the worship of 
the future. It is the idealisation of life, for only 
when we have idealised it within can we worthily 
realise it without. The future on earth is all impor- 
tant in the social religion. We worship Humanity 



to serve her better and the best preparation is the 
development of the sympathetic feelings. 

By dwelling on the virtues and perfections of 
others we incorporate them in ourselves, especially 
when the possessors have passed through the puri- 
fication of death, beautifully symbolised, in the 
West by the waters of oblivion and the river restoring 
the memory of the good, and in the East, by the 
gradual perfecting of the Buddha. This truth is 
evident in the private worship where every worshipper 
dwells upon the memory of those who have helped 
him in his life, types which will generally be drawn 
from the nearest ; how few there are who do not 
spontaneously worship the memory of the mother. 

The domestic worship consists in the preparation 
of each member of the household to take part in 
public life by the consecration of each stage of his 
private career, men being dedicated to the simplest 
labour, as Kings and Priests have been in the 

Finally, he sets forth the noble scheme of Public 
Worship by which, in the course of festivals (of 
which we see many spontaneous beginnings to-day), 
every relationship of human life, every phase of the 
past and the organisation of the future is honoured, 
so that each child of man shall, by the idealisation 
of life, be prepared to enter it fittingly. 

One practical improvement for life and worship 
he instituted, the perfecting of the calendar by 
dividing the year into thirteen months of equal 
length with one extra day at the end of each year, 
and one in addition at the end of every four years, 



thus he carried on the work of Julius Caesar and 
Gregory. This has often been suggested of late, 
another instance of how much he was before his time. 

The idealisation of the work of the capitalist and 
the workman, the consecration of both, and the 
instruction in their mutual duties by a body of men 
devoted to the teaching of all, seems a fair and 
beautiful picture in the midst of the present disorder, 
fear and resentment, but it is based on the gradual 
development of the past from slavery, through 
serfage, to free and independent labour, and its 
realisation lies in the not far distant future. 

Every relationship is idealised in this comprehen- 
sive worship, for " Love is the principle ", the 
moving force in the social life of man. 

The science which constitutes the doctrine of the 
religion is abstract but images must be united to 
signs, as when geometric forms are pictured on the 
inner space. 

The First Philosophy consists of the universal 
principles which are the foundation of all ordered 
thought and apply to all sciences, they relate partly 
to the world and partly to the mind of men. 

Dealing with the scale of the sciences, Comte 
insisted more strongly than before on the truth that 
all study leads up to, and culminates in, morals, or 
the study of man, each science developing his mind 
by its methods as well as improving his circumstances 
by its means. The end of science is right conduct, 
which depends, in the first place, on right feeling. 
This chapter forms the gradual transition from 
feeling to activity, the mission of the Intellect. 



The next chapter " The Life " is a picture of the 
happier future when men of intellectual power will 
not vie with each other to sell their mental goods 
in the highest market but will accept simple 
conditions and devote themselves to the education of 
the people; the mothers in all ranks, having received 
the higher education, will be able to guide their 

The Spiritual power appeals to feeling and 
reason, the Temporal is only concerned with acts. 
Personal, domestic and civic morality are parts of 
one process which consists in developing the higher 
instincts, rather than directly repressing the lower; 
the type to be attained is that of the mother's love 
who finds higher joy in ministering to her child than 
in a more purely personal gratification. Attach- 
ment makes the little child desire to share some 
delicacy with brother, sister or dog, and makes 
" giving up " a pleasure in after years. Veneration 
impels the strong man to protect the old and to curb 
his pride and vanity. Sympathy or Humanity 
makes all enter into the sufferings and joys of others 
putting their more selfish feelings aside, and in these 
cases it is not the loss of personal gratification that 
is felt but the joy of exercising the higher and 
nobler instinct, also innate ; it is not " sacrifice M 
but " fulfilment ". 

The perfect family life will be more nearly attained 
in the settled existence, each workman owning his 
own house, which will become a sanctuary, enshrining 
the memory of the love and care of mother and wife, 
while the growth towards complete monogamy will 



hallow and perfect marriage. The necessity of a 
link between the Family and Humanity, to train 
feeling with reality and firmness through Patriotism, 
will lead to the development of small states where 
the love of the country can be realised in its intensity, 
all attempts of one country to seize and rule another, 
on whatever pretext, Toeing regarded much as robbery 
by individuals is regarded to-day. All states will 
be united by common education and the worship of 
Humanity, the Spiritual Power extending its in- 
fluence over all. The life of man is one and the aim 
should be to bring the tenderness, mutual considera- 
tion and trust, shewn in the family, to bear upon civic 
life and finally on international relations. Striving 
to approximate his conduct to the type of mother- 
hood the employer of industry will, by sympathetic 
insight, understand the needs of his workmen and 
will desire to satisfy them when possible. More and 
more the Family, where the highest qualities are 
more intensely developed, will become the type of 
conduct to the citizens in their sonship to Humanity. 
The Rulers of society will undertake no work which 
is harmful to the race. The industrial era fully 
inaugurated and the idea of empire a dream of the 
Past, there will be no need for arms or other engines 
of destruction. Society governed by its leading 
citizens will be organised to useful ends. Honour 
will be given to capacity, while the hereditary titles 
and privileges will pass away. The aim will not be 
confined to family or country, but the good of all 
will be considered, the different virtues of the white, 
yellow and black races recognised and incorporated. 



The strong will devote themselves to the service of 
the weak and will receive in return respect and 
veneration. Capital will be transmitted with function 
to the successor, and workmen will renounce all resort 
to violence, confining their action to non-co-opera- 
tion in cases of tyranny. Wages will be paid to the 
workmen in two portions, one fixed, sufficient for 
the maintenance of his family, the other variable, 
according to the results of his labour. All work will 
be paid at nearly the same rate, a slight difference 
for town and country but the equality extending to 
all countries. Wages, stipends, salaries are not the 
price of labour which has no money equivalent, but 
are conditions and means of action. 

The government will be in the hands of the three 
most capable administrators of capital, the ministers 
for agriculture, manufacture and commerce, these 
ministers will give their services gratuitously. All 
people having received the same education, will meet 
in the salons of the women and discuss public matters. 
Class distinctions in society will have passed away, 
the only distinction will be between command and 
obedience so essential in industry. Tenderness will 
be extended to the very small portion of the human 
race to whom steady work is an impossibility. They 
will not be shut up but will be maintained with kindly 
feeling as mendicants, from whatever section of 
society they have come. 

Uniformity in all countries in the laws of marriage 
and inheritance, in coinage, weights and measures, 
and a common language, in addition to the local one, 
will greatly facilitate intercourse between the peoples. 



Each country will produce the products suited to its 
soil and climate, thus avoiding waste. The con- 
dition of man's kind and faithful helpers, the 
animals, will be improved and the heaviest work 
given to inorganic forces. 

Nor will the Earth herself be forgotten, here also 
there will be no waste while care will be taken to 
avoid unsightliness and to develop the beauty of the 
planet. Reverencing the products of human labour 
men will learn to respect the materials which make 
such products possible. The wisdom of man is 
condensed in this law : " The noblest order perfects 
the lowest by submission to it ". 

Under the guidance of Love, under the control of 
Faith, Action unites and strengthens the union of 
the two, by the development of collective industry. 

In the last chapter, " The Transition ", the 
(probable) steps are traced by which the new 
construction will replace the old and the order in 
which the different nations of the three races will 
adopt Positivism. Paris will be the centre during 
the transition but in the normal state the centre will 
be found at a point uniting the East and the West. 

In speaking of England he says that the ruling 
classes, " the ablest since the Roman Senate ", are 
capable of conducting the change without revolution 
and " may have the unparalleled honour of direct- 
ing, in an orderly movement the formation and 
installation of the normal state M , but he warns 
them, they must act quickly or the elite of the 
British workmen will outstrip them and place in 
power the successors of Cromwell. If the Patricians 



do not " to their eternal honour, to the great good 
of the people and even of the whole world, avail 
themselves to the full, of the more striking advant- 
age of their position ", the revolution in England 
wll be more stormy than elsewhere. 

One act of poetic justice he proposed, that Oceana, 
with suitable compensation, should be given to the 
black race as a sin offering from the West. 

In conclusion he points out that foresight is the 
result of the dependence of our inner life on the 
outer world. An astronomical calculation shows a 
coincidence between the chain of thought within and 
the succession of events without, so, when extended 
to the social order, true harmony is attained, the 
picture within corresponds to the reality without and 
man's mind becomes the mirror of the world, and 
the picture deduced from the past helps him to 
understand and regulate the present. 

As the work had been preceded by the Dedication 
it was now followed by an "Invocation" of the 
beloved friend in which he traces the seven steps 
in his advance which he owed to her influence, the 
stimulation to higher and more complete thought 
which had been the result of their intercourse. The 
first was the realisation of Humanity, not as an 
intellectual construction but as a composite Being, 
feeling, thinking and acting : the one life in which 
the many found their fulfilment. The second was 
the formation of Positive logic by the adoption of 
the subjective method that is, the method of 
sympathy. Logic includes Feelings, Images and 
Signs, and Clotilde had helped him to realise 



that feeling alone can combine images with signs 
to elaborate thought. The third was his con- 
struction of the cerebral theory (the psycho-analytic 
table) ; The fourth was giving the highest place 
to morals, thus placing the religious construction 
higher than the philosophic creation. The fifth, the 
separation of the spiritual and temporal powers. 
The sixth, was the connection between the two ex- 
tremes of man's initiation, fetichism and positivism, 
uniting the whole history of man. Clotilde had 
shown her complete sympathy with both ends of the 
scale by her charming fetichist poem, "The Thoughts 
of a Flower ", and her novel " Lucie ", a positive 
idealisation. The seventh step results from the 
others and from appreciation of human life. The 
worship must be before the doctrine even as in life 
love precedes and is a necessary condition of under- 
standing or knowledge. 

Thus her subjective influence had helped him, she 
had, as he said, " renewed the light of the intellect 
by the flame of the heart M , but he felt how much 
more quickly he would have advanced had he been 
blessed with her presence. Indeed, it is difficult to 
estimate the loss to the world which her early death 
has been. Her constant presence, when he had, as 
he intended, adopted her as his daughter and the 
happiness it would have brought him would in all 
probability have prolonged his life, and the effect 
of her nature on his disciples, the women she would 
have brought in, all these things might have made 
a great difference in the advance of the religion. 


HE had accomplished the task he had planned 
in early youth but his life's work was by no 
means at an end. He had long seen the necessity 
of a third work to consist of the reconstruction of 
the abstract sciences from a central or synthetic 
point of view. He intended to write the beginning, 
on mathematics, and the ending, on morals, himself, 
leaving the intermediate sciences for later followers 
who should be especially skilled in them. 

Before beginning this " Subjective Synthesis " 
he would pause for a year as was his custom after 
finishing one of his undertakings. Such pauses were 
necessary, as when he began to write he wrote straight 
on, without alteration, everything being arranged in 
his mind before he began. 

There was much minor work done during this year 
of leisure. Since Littr6 had established the fund 
for his maintenance, Comte had written a circular 
each year, to be sent to each contributor, in which 
he pointed out the value of such a fund ; as it freed 
the thinker from oppression and enabled him to 
devote his life to important work. He looked upon 



it as the beginning of a Sacerdotal Fund by means 
of which capable young men, showing themselves 
disinterested by renouncing wealth, might be trained 
to teach the people. For himself he was proud of 
such an effort made on his behalf and would have 
been more so if the sum had been raised by sub- 
scriptions of a centime a day, contributed by work- 
ing men. He was strict with those who undertook 
to subscribe, it was a duty which must be regularly 
carried out and the amount should be in proportion 
to income. For some years the sum subscribed did 
not reach the minimum, but before he died he had 
the satisfaction of seeing it passed, and some devoted 
disciples, notably the Dutch group, made it up to a 
sufficient sum in the early years. When it passed 
the 7000 francs considered necessary he would not 
take more for himself. He accounted to the sub- 
scribers for every penny of his expenditure, his one 
extravagance was, he said, his apartment which was 
larger than he required but Sophie was an excellent 
economist and the food for both did not cost more 
than fifty pounds a year. 

During this year of comparative leisure he wrote 
his " Appeal to Conservatives ", a short treatise 
addressed to the governing classes. The term 
" conservative fl was not applied in France then, 
as it is in England, to a political party, it had been 
used as the name of a periodical put forward by 
the men who honestly tried to combine order and 
progress, men like Lamennais, one of them, who 
often discussed with Comte the regeneration they 
both desired. These conservatives or " con- 
i 129 


structives " are men, of any class, who while 
reverencing the past and striving to be worthy of 
its traditions, are yet alive to the future and to the 
progress needed to unite the two harmoniously. Such 
men there are, men of wealth, who, living simply 
themselves, try to improve the conditions of labour, 
do not ostentatiously head large subscriptions but 
have quietly formed themselves into the modern 
chivalry ever ready to succour the distressed, and 
behind them there is a large body of workmen who 
have no illusions about wealth, but only ask for 
such conditions as shall enable them to bring up 
their children in happy homes and to give them an 
education which will enable them to share in the 
intellectual and spiritual treasures of the race. To 
all such men Comte made his appeal to help forward 
the public programme of Positivism even if they did 
not understand its doctrines. For certainly such 
men would approve of the meaning of Positive, 
that the aim should be reality and usefulness, that 
it should not be vague and wandering, but certain 
and precisely understood, that it should be organic 
and capable of growth, and relative, and finally that 
it should be morally sympathetic. He urged them 
then to put feeling first, morals or right conduct to 
be the aim of all effort intellectual or practical, to 
make it relative to the needs of the time, to bring 
about the separation of command and counsel, with 
complete liberty of speech and opinion, to maintain 
the dignity of women and improve marriage; the 
family being the school of tender feeling where 
selfishness was lessened, not by conscious repression, 


but by the growth of love, and to ennoble the family 
by making its object the service of the city; to help 
forward the growth of patriotism by gradually 
dividing the overgrown empires and to ennoble civic 
life by subordinating it in its turn to the wider 
bond in Humanity. 

Such true conservatives would convince the 
reactionists that the order they loved would not be 
subverted but would be developed by the very 
progress they feared, and would make clear to the 
communists that the altruism they desired would 
prevail better by utilising the institutions of the past 
than by destroying them. 

He also wrote his Will although he hoped to live, 
having planned work for many years to come. 
With complete trust in the devotion of his followers 
he directed that the sacerdotal fund should be kept 
up, the allowance he had given to his wife paid, the 
apartment kept as a meeting place for positivists, 
Sophie to be its guardian and to receive a pension, 
the books and many other things to be the property 
of his successor. His followers justified his faith 
and as far as was possible carried out his Will when 
the time came. 

They had a difficult task, for the shadow which 
had darkened his life was not removed after 
death. Madame Comte had hoped to regain her 
influence over him, she attended his lectures and he 
wondered whether she now appreciated the doctrine 
she had before slighted. He felt he would value the 
adhesion of one so intellectually distinguished, he 
treated her with courtesy, ordered an armchair to 


be brought for her when she appeared, answered her 
letters, but firmly declined any personal interviews. 
When a hall was denied him she intervened and 
obtained it by her influence and he said she had 
gained the gratitude of all Positivists, but when she 
tried to force further intimacy and began to revive 
old grievances which could only lead to recrimination 
he put an end to the correspondence. From this 
time her action became more hostile, and she spoke 
scandalously of Comte's relations with Madame de 
Vaux and even with Sophie. Then all the chivalry 
of his nature, which had for so many years sheltered 
her, was turned from her to the protection of those 
two so dearly loved, so reverently cherished, and he 
made a confidential disclosure to Sophie of his wife's 
history that she might be able to protect herself 
after his death. Telling Dr. Robinet he had done 
this (but without telling him what he had disclosed) 
Dr. Robinet persuaded him also to write a secret 
codicil to his Will. He did this, directing that it 
should be destroyed if Madame Comte died before 
him and that it was only to be used in case of need. 
It may be doubted whether, had he consulted his 
inward guide only, this would have been done. 

On his death Madame Comte refused all the con- 
ditions of his Will, occupied the apartment and sold 
his things alleging that she did so to pay his debts, 
not regarding the express arrangement he had made 
about debts. It is not surprising that a proud woman 
should persist in this attitude when threatened with 
the secret codicil by the executors. 

She who had been a complete unbeliever all her 



life disputed the Will on the ground that her husband 
was a madman and an atheist. His things were put 
up to auction, the garments well worn in the service 
of Humanity were exposed to the mockery of the 
curious and the profane. His disciples rallied to 
carry out his wishes, bought back his things and 
secured the apartment where all was replaced 
reverently and in due order by the loving hands 
of Sophie. 

At the time he made his Will five days were 
devoted to his writing, one to correspondence, every 
Wednesday he visited the grave of Clotilde and on 
Saturday morning spent half-an-hour in meditation 
in the Church of St. Paul, Rue St. Antoine, where 
the ceremony of baptism had been performed when 
Comte and Madame de Vaux were sponsors for 
her brother's child and which he regarded as the 
beginning of their spiritual union. 

On Wednesday evening the Positivist Society met 
in his rooms, and one evening was devoted to Pierre 
Laffitte whom he still hoped to appoint as his suc- 
cessor, other evenings he received visitors from seven 
to nine, when he charmed all by his conversation. 
Those who knew his habits left at nine. He had 
been prepared to give up his home if necessary but 
it would have been a bitter blow to him, for he could 
work there better than anywhere else. It was full 
of the memories which helped him, there he had had 
the great relief of finishing his Philosophy, which 
circumstances had made so heavy a task, there he 
had gathered his band of disciples round him and 
there above all Clotilde had visited him. 



In addition to his intense feeling and strong and 
clear reasoning he was gifted with extraordinary 
powers of imagination, equalled only perhaps by 
William Blake and some of the mystics of the 
Middle Ages, and the mystics were helped by the 
belief that the visions they summoned up had an 
actual existence outside of them, while Comte knew 
well that they were the result of his own will and 
imagination. He could gather his disciples around 
him when they were far away, he took pains to find 
out the features and costumes of the great types of 
history and reproduced them at will, thus he could 
always be in noble human surroundings, and for 
his beloved colleague he vividly recalled every look, 
every expression, every attitude, he lived in her 
presence, he remembered every word from the days 
when she sat in the chair, so sacred to him now, 
and held the conversations of which we can form 
some idea from the Catechism. 

Where can a parallel be found to these two in their 
short year of intimacy, the ardent lover and the 
woman growing in tenderness towards him, dis- 
cussing the future of man and the glory of 
Humanity ! All must rejoice that he was allowed 
to retain the home which held these memories for 
him. The last years of his life were the happiest for 
he had experienced the joy of a pure and noble love 
and he had by long and sustained effort disciplined 
his personal desires and had advanced far on the 
path to perfection. 

He had become the living witness of the power of 
the religion of Humanity which he had shewn to the 



world, for who, seeing the change in him, could 
doubt the efficacy of positivist prayer. It has been 
said that prayer is useless, even a mockery, unless 
there is some outside power consciously hearing it. 
On the other hand it is pointed out that prayer has 
been answered whether addressed to a so-called false 
god or true one, and that the earnest setting of 
the heart towards ideal beauty and goodness has 
always been the cause of improvement. But no 
argument of this kind can equal the effect of the 
sight of the growth in gentleness and saintliness of 
this man who had thrown off all early training and 
been harsh and arbitrary. 

There are many accounts of him at this time 
written by different disciples. 

He had, as we know, thought himself without 
charm, he was called ugly, with one weak and 
drooping eye, and was subject to nervous contortions, 
but such was the mastery of the soul over the body 
that, as he spoke, the power and brilliance of his 
glance was astonishing and his hearers were carried 
away by the charm of his conversation which was 
sometimes gay, with sarcastic touches, causing the 
amusement of all, but when he spoke of the religion 
and of the regeneration of the world they felt them- 
selves in the presence of a saint. 

He had many disappointments, for his powers 
fascinated men and they seemed to understand him 
and agree with his views when they were really 
carried away by the charm of his personality, then, 
later, when he found their ignorance he thought 
they were faithless and traitors to the truths which 


they had accepted. These thought him harsh and 
despotic. He was so intellectually truthful himself 
that he could not understand the vagueness and un- 
certainty of some minds, but even towards such men 
he became more tolerant for he carried all his 
difficulties, all his hopes and failures into the ideal 
presence of Clotilde, and strove to attain her 
courteous gentleness and consideration for all; how 
he attained this the words of his followers will shew. 
An Irish disciple writes : 

" He impressed me as a man deeply in earnest, 
convinced that he had by his genius and life- 
long labours reached the central truth of morals 
and religion. He inspired confidence by his 
constant efforts to correct his own faults ". 

James Hamilton, his English pupil, who had at 
first regarded him as a precise, severe and unsympa- 
thetic tutor but who had gradually realised the 
higher meaning of his teaching and the deep feeling 
that lay beneath, visited him at intervals and says 
of him, in 1851 : 

" I was able to remark the wonderful change which 
had come over the expression. . . He now 
reminded me of one of those mediaeval pictures 
which represent St. Francis wedded to Poverty. 
There was a mildness in those attenuated 
features which might be called ideal rather 
than human ". 

and his beloved physician Robinet speaking of his 
influence, says : 


" It was shewn even more in those private inter- 
views which he kindly gave every day for the 
moral needs of those who approached him. No 
one could make himself with more generosity 
and charm " all things to all men ". It was in 
these moments of sweet and beneficial intercourse 
that he gave 'counsel and private direction with 
power and love; his words at these sacred 
moments have saved many ffom doubt, from 
weakness and irresolution, from the torment and 
danger of revolutionary malady, from moral 
death and the devouring leprosy of egoism. . . 
And many can witness that whenever they 
approached this noble man they left his presence 
better, wiser and more resolute ". 

For he was now not only the philosophic teacher, 
the Founder of a school, but the spiritual Father, 
tender and wise, the moral guide of his disciples 
whom he regarded as his children, the first minister 
and priest of the Human Religion which he had 
made known to the world. The title he liked best 
was that of " The Loving Philosopher ". 



DURING the last years of his life Comte's 
correspondence greatly increased and by no 
means the least valuable part of his work is found 
in the mass of letters he wrote. Men of eminence 
sought in him not only the intellectual guide but also 
a moral teacher. Many who had never seen him 
found help in their personal and family difficulties 
as well as clear guidance in matters of thought. 
The number of subjects touched on in these letters 
is very varied, ranging from the right way of 
teaching Latin to children to the temporal and 
spiritual government of mankind in the future. He 
expected much from his disciples for he was no 
quietist, the result of the most devout meditation 
was, in his own case and must be in theirs, stimulation 
of social ardour. Guided by Positivist principles 
they should at once devote themselves to social 
regeneration each one in his own place and according 
to the needs of his surroundings should be the 
earnest apostle of the new order. His heart had 
room for them all, he taught, exhorted, reproved and 
sometimes, with intense suffering to himself, 
renounced them, he says : 



" Spiritual fathers even more than natural fathers 
are subject to the fate of loving more than they 
are loved." 

He entered into and considered their difficulties 
and duties were they English, Dutch, German, 
Italian, Spanish, -Brazilian, American or French. 
He was anxious that all should have the international 
honour of their country at heart, it was for the 
people of each land to see that their country did 
nothing unworthy in the comity of nations. He 
had advocated the return of Algeria to the Arabs 
by France, and he wished all the nations of the 
West to return the spoils they had taken in other 
lands. He urged his English followers to remon- 
strate against the " injurious anomaly " of 
Gibralter. Cobden had already suggested its 
restitution at a meeting of British merchants, and 
Dr. Richard Congreve, who became the first public 
apostle of Positivism in England, responding to 
Comte's appeal wrote his able essay " Gibraltar " 9 
which met the master's cordial approval. He 
hoped this work would stimulate feeling in Germany 
in favour of Italy. In each country the natives 
themselves should repair the wrongs, for this, 
true patriotism was necessary, the step between 
love of the family and love of Humanity but 
" since the end of the Middle Ages the western 
peoples have had no real country owing to the 
enormous size of the political aggregations. The 
only patriotism which has developed during the 
period is that of the English and this has been 


marred by the exploitation of the rest of Humanity" 
and then he adds: " Since the invasion of France 
in the I4th century until the shameful opium war in 
China in 1841 the British power has been the most 
disturbing in terrestrial affairs M . But when a 
disciple feared that in India, Egypt and China 
there might be destruction as there was in Mexico, 
Comte tells him there is no fear of this, " their 
social existence is too firm " and he was sure that 
the nobler souls in England would disavow the 
attack on Canton which had excited these fears : 

" We shall soon find a spontaneous support for 
the moral effect of positivism in external 
relations, since the voice of the English them- 
selves will be raised, with an increasing energy, 
against the oppression in India ". 

The Crimean war had been undertaken as " a war 
against war " but had degenerated into an offensive 
war, and he blamed the siege of Sebastopol, for 
although the Russian Empire must break up, it was 
not for those nations ' ' which will assuredly meet the 
same fate " to bring it about by violence. It is a 
general truth that war excites such evil passions, 
such unmeasured hate, that even when undertaken 
from noble motives it ends in an orgy of cruelty 
and destruction. 

He says : The English Revolution, radically 
greater than the French because it was religious and 
led by two of England's greatest sons whose 
apotheosis he hoped to live to see in the Pantheon, 
was shamefully misunderstood. Danton alone in the 



French crisis approached Cromwell in the nobility 
of his social aims. If the continuity of the two 
Revolutions could be shewn the sympathies of the 
British workmen would be brought out towards the 

He had many contacts with England. We have 
seen how Mill and* Lewes honoured him though they 
could not follow him in his later work. His 
influence can be plainly seen in the novels of George 
Eliot who became a positivist and whose finest 
poetry " The Choir Invisible " and passages in the 
" Spanish Gypsy M and the " Minor Prophet " are 
expressions of positivist doctrine. Sir David 
Brewster speaks of Comte's Philosophy as " pro- 
found science conspicuous for the highest attributes 
of intellectual power >J , and notices " his simple 
yet powerful eloquence . . . his enthusiastic 
admiration of intellectual superiority, his accuracy 
as an historian, his honesty as a judge and his 
absolute freedom from personal and national 
feelings ". In 1853, Harriet Martineau translated 
and condensed his " Philosophy ". This work 
delighted him so much that he recommended it 
should be read instead of the original and he told 
her in a letter that he was struck by the " extra- 
ordinary insight due to the heart no less than the 
mind by which you have so deeply felt the social 
destination of a philosophic composition of which 
most masculine judges have only realised the 
intellectual tendency ". The authoress had, 
indeed, so entered into the spirit of his work, and 
realised its social meaning, that, dry as the work 



might seem to some, she had translated parts of 
it with tears in her eyes and these were passages 
which Comte had written with deep emotion; yet, 
in later years when he re-read his early work, he 
felt it so lacking, compared to the stage he had then 
reached, that he said, with the humour which 
underlay his intense seriousness, that he was obliged 
to read a canto of Ariosto at once to take the taste 
out of his mouth ! 

Miss Martineau insisted on sending him part of 
the profit she had made on the book, he could not 
accept this for himself as he had renounced all 
profit from his writings but it was used to pay the 
cost of printing his works. 

He calls attention to the importance of making 
the distinction between republicans and revolution- 
aries quite clear. The retrogrades and the 
revolutionaries approach each other and will finally 
coincide when " the profound affinity between 
anarchy and reaction shall be better understood ". 
It was our lot in England, in 1926, to see this 
affinity illustrated when both the diehards and the 
communists were ready to fly to force while the 
mass of the working men, even during the terrible 
suffering of the lockout, shewed extraordinary self- 
control and strove to preserve peace. 

Comte urged his English disciples to less reserve, 
to shew more sympathy with men of other races, 
this lack of " elan " is "the radical vice of British 
souls " and he found this even in the Irish group 
who, he says, were English settlers. They must be 
brave and patriotic: " It would be strange if 



boldness belonged only to men without mind and 
heart ". He realised that Dr. Ingram's position, 
a professor under Anglican domination, made it 
impossible for him to speak out and says that 
official professors should confine themselves to 
perfecting the teaching confided to them, without 
introducing misplaced propaganda, but he probably 
did not know that Dr. Ingram was the young author 
of the national song " Who fears to speak of 98 " 
which rang through Ireland stirring all hearts. In 
later life the tender feeling shewn in his sonnets 
to his dead wife would have touched the heart of 
the Master, and when he retired in old age he made 
his profession of faith in the religion of Humanity. 
He had fine intellectual gifts and it was said of 
him at the time of his death that he was perhaps 
the most learned man in Europe. On another 
disciple, Henry Dix Hutton, Comte impressed the 
need of veneration and moral culture too much 
neglected. It is owing to the habits of submission 
learned in the Middle Ages that the western 
peoples have accepted scientific truths which could 
never have passed into universal circulation if 
insubordination had always existed. The revolu- 
tionary state in practical life is " that every one aims 
at ruling while no one wishes to obey " and in 
matters of theory " Everyone pretends to teach while 
no one wants to learn " " without veneration nothing 
can be learned or even enjoyed, stability of mind 
or heart cannot be attained in morals or sociology 
or even in geometry or arithmetic. It is not enough 
discipline to accept those truths which have been 



demonstrated, for the laws of the mind make this 
inevitable : " The faith must always be demonstrable 
but it cannot always be demonstrated ". " Vener- 
ation ", he says, " is the sign of the elect ". 

Comte was encouraged when practical men adopted 
positivism and tried to put it into practice, he 
advised Winstanly, a wealthy young Englishman, 
to plan the improved cottages he was building in 
the French or Italian style, rather than the English, 
which meant social isolation for the agricultural 
labourer. Hadery, a Frenchman, tried to make his 
farm labourers into one family, living as simply 
himself as they had to do. He felt that the most 
important question of the day was the " incorpora- 
tion of the proletariat into society " and that the 
most powerful means to this end lay in the improve- 
ment of the working men themselves. Comte agreed 
and wrote that it was first for them to moralise 
wealth : 

" When their opinions and habits are rectified it 
will be easy also to correct the wealthy who will 
then be pushed from below by an irresistible 
force and from above by philosophic teaching". 

But philosophic teaching will be in vain 

" while working men secretly aim at the very 
same idleness and pleasures which they blame 
in the rich ". 

They must realise the dignity of labour, and 
Hadery' t^sk vyas to develop in them the feelings 



and customs which would turn them from dreaming 
of the middle class as the only desirable end of 
their career. No better work could be done than 
thus to help by special practice " the holy social 
theory ". Also he must be ready for political 
activity, for all eminent practical men ought to be 
ready to help their dear country. 

To a barrister he says there is still important work 
to be done at the bar but that cases should only be 
undertaken after they have been carefully considered 
and proved good, he warned him against the habit 
of the profession of deliberating without concluding. 
He warned the young banker Deullin not to neglect 
his special work in his interest in social progress : 

" I hope positivism will help you to appreciate 
your noble profession more completely and to 
perfect it by purging it from all gambling, 
enlarging it by worthy investments and en- 
nobling it by wise and generous patronage ". 

Bankers are the .generals of modern industry. It 
pleased him to hear that Deullin was meditating on 
the sociological appreciation of the Bank but when 
he suggested a central Bank Comte replied it would 
have a bad effect as the Temporal Power should not 
be centralised. On the other hand he warned him 
not to be 'so immersed in his work as to lose interest 
in larger questions as this leads to moral and social 
degeneration, and to the young Dr. Fisher, who 
had pleaded his own absorption in his examinations 
as an excuse for not writing, he answers : 

K I4S 


" Man should dominate all his occupations not 
be dominated by them ". 

Such absorption is a sign of weakness, special work 
must be harmonised with social interest. Social 
harmony would be endangered if men gave up public 
interest as well as if they failed in their special 
work : 

" Private worship can never be developed and 
kept up unless the need for each practice has 
been felt, daily duties interfere unless there is 
scrupulous regularity " 

and the same applies to correspondence which then 
becomes a form of worship. To the Vice Attorney 
General at Bordeaux he says that the duty of a 
positivist magistrate is to know how to " sympathise 
with backward souls ". An Italian sent him a 
paper called, <c Solution of the chief problems which 
agitate our century ". This was in complete agree- 
ment with the feeling and thought of Comte's own 
work and he hailed it as a proof of the prepared- 
ness of Italy for the new order. She might pass 
directly from Catholicism to positivism without 
French deism or German pantheism. Italian would 
be the universal language because it was best adapted 
to art and poetry and had not at that time been 
oppressively imposed on other countries. The best 
minds in Italy were ready but they needed positivism 
or he feared they might fall under an oppression 
which would make the larger part of the population 
regret the Austrian yoke. One disciple he advised 
to seek the society of women and workmen for they 



are the elements of the moral force which is to 
regulate the world : 

" The modern renovation will proceed from below 
even more than it did in the times of St. Paul 
and St. Bernard ". 

But these two classes .must be aided by the intellect- 
ual power, his own glorious mission had been to 
constitute the moral, after having shewn the mental, 
superiority of the new religion. 

Any sign of overcoming class distinctions gave 
him hope and he was delighted when Dr. Robinet's 
wife wrote a tender letter to Sophie and they asked 
her to be the sponsor for their little child. About 
the same time an American disciple named his child 
Sophie Clotilde shewing that at this time the beauty 
of the bond between the three was recognised. To 
a disciple who wrote to him in physical and moral 
difficulties he gave encouragement and advice and 
advanced his theory of the chaste marriage in cases 
where physical or mental conditions make it un- 
desirable that children should be born. The beauty 
and the helpfulness of such unions could be com- 
pleted by adoption. Thus he deals with the subject 
of birth control, now so much before the public, 
but in how different a spirit to much of the modern 
teaching. It is by the gradual growth of self-control 
and a more ideal relation between the sexes that 
this will be brought about, not by the acceptance of 
a lower standard. To another he explained the 
value of the vow of widowhood in the positivist 
marriage, a good influence is purified and ennobled 



by death, the subjective life must be developed, all 
idea of the objective or conscious life after death 
being given up. 

To those who ask advice about their health he 
suggests a sober and regular diet without wine or 
other stimulants but in a case where a questioner 
has already carried self-discipline to the extreme 
Comte advises the opposite, more food and even 
wine, playfully reminding him that if he is to 
" live for others " he must live and not die, and 
remarking that even the celebrated Dr. Sangrado, 
in spite of his praise of water, had wine in his 
pharmacopoeia ! His principal advice for health 
was the attainment of unity by benevolent feeling. 
A morbid condition is often the lack of some great 
social enthusiasm, some absorbing influence outside 
self : 

" only in an immense common destination can 
noble souls find harmony and happiness ". 

Physical and moral conditions and public and private 
life can only be appreciated together. 

To Dr. Audiffrent, who was the most capable of 
truly comprehending and sharing his social and 
intellectual aspirations, and of whom he speaks as 
his " tenderest and most devoted disciple ", he 
unfolded his theory of vital harmony which he 
would have dealt with at length in his book on 
Theoretic Morals had he lived to write it. Health 
is unity, or ease, the only disease is alteration of 
unity and this may be by excess or defect within or 
without : 



" We are thus led in practice to the general con* 
sequences by which medicine and morals are 
related. Disease resulting from an alteration 
of unity, while unity rests essentially upon 
sympathy, it is rigorously demonstrated that 
the best way to keep oneself in health consists 
in developing * good will. The gaiety, the 
security which the habit of living openly brings, 
guarantees health and happiness " .... 

" While in the lower animals only the organism 
and milieu have to be considered, in man the 
former must be decomposed into individual and 
collective for it is through Humanity that the 
world dominates man and man modifies the 
world, its influence on the individual is indirect 
depending on the stage in the life of the race. 
Humanity protects man from the world as well 
as passes on its benefits M . 

An instance of this truth is, how different the effect 
of a thunder storm on the man cowering under the 
fear of the anger of an infuriated God and on him 
who, conscious of a lightning conductor, pursues his 
usual occupations tranquilly. The " isolated man " 
is an abstraction which is as vicious in medicine as 
in politics ". Audiffrent posed the modern 
problem " To destroy disease, poverty and war ". 
Comte accepted this but made the order war, poverty, 
disease, for poverty followed war and disease 
poverty. The problem is still unsolved (1927) and 
until the governments of the countries firmly decide 



against war, poverty and disease must be the lot 
of the governed. 

Audiffrent, who became an able doctor, dreaded 
dissection of the human body and Comte answered 
him that the scientific imagination by which the 
interconnection of the parts was accurately and 
clearly pictured in the inner space, was of far more 
value than dissection but far rarer and more difficult 
to attain. Comte regarded the medical as the 
noblest profession and speaks of it as the "nursery 
of the new philosophers " : 

" the general theory of the sympathies must come 
from a positivist doctor capable of under- 
standing the influence of the brain upon the 
body without which doctors will be only bad 
veterinary surgeons ". 

and he speaks of the necessity of 

" the reaction of the heart over the mind to 
avoid the grave dangers of medical material- 
ism ". 

For the last stage in development must be 
decomposed into scientific and philosophic. Science, 
though the necessary basis is not by itself fully 
positive, reality must be combined with utility in 
relation to Humanity. 

Audiffrent's tender heart helped him to enter into 
the master's ideas even more, perhaps, than his 
unusual mental power. Through loving memory of 
a negress who had been his nurse he entered into 
Comte's feeling for the black race, he preached to 


workmen and tried to convert women, associating 
with the women of the people, but above all he 
appreciated from the first the share of Madame de 
Vaux in the formation of the religion. This was a 
constant joy to Comte, who felt that he owed his 
power over hearts to his adoration of her. His love 
of giving and receiving sympathy increased with 
the years and he delighted in the circle of disciples, 
now growing too numerous for him to gather them 
all consciously around him at sacred moments : 

" I have obtained more than I at first hoped 
since I am already, in my sixtieth year 
provided with a treasure of affection which 
I feel sure will be permanent ". 

He loved to gather them, in his mind, in his old 
home at Montpellier, and wrote : 

" This precious group, where my true family, 
both living and dead is clearly present to my 
heart, constitutes the best result of the whole 
of my career M . 

He had achieved, owing to his worship of Clotilde, 
empire over himself : 

cc a wholesome discipline frees us from weariness, 
doubt and irresolution which unregulated souls 
have to endure ". 

Through his constant worship and profound medi- 
tation the law of the subjective life was revealed to 
him and, in a letter to Hadery, he utters the sublime 
truth that the type worshipped, whatever originally 


it may have been " gradually attains the filial 
type >f even in the case of the mother " filia del tuo 
figlio ", for the attachment which originally estab- 
lished the loved one in the heart stimulates the 
veneration which reveals the noble and worshipful 
qualities and this in its turn develops the sympathy 
or benevolence which enables the lover to envisage 
the whole life of the beloved as the mother enters 
into the life of the child. Thus true worship results 
in the worshipper growing more and more in the 
likeness of Humanity. This was rapidly brought 
about in Comte's own case, for his adoring love for 
Clotilde was mixed with profound pity for the 
anxieties and sorrows of her young life, and his 
regret for all that he did not give his mother, 
Rosalie, filled his heart with a yearning pity that 
all she had lavished on him must have seemed to 
her in vain. 



" So on our heels a fresh perfection treads, 
A power more strong in beauty, born of us 
And fated to excel us, as we pass 
In glory that old darkness." 

Keats' Hyperion. 

IN 1856 Comte published the first volume of the 
last important work he had planned, " The 
Subjective Synthesis ", of which he was to write 
four volumes, the first on mathematics, the second 
and third on theoretic and practical morals, and 
the last on industry. Of these he only lived to write 
the first, of the second and third some indication 
had been left by the planning of the chapters, but 
the bearing of the fourth can only be gathered from 
the general trend of his writings. The " Subjective 
Synthesis " was to have been the crown and com- 
pletion of his labours. 

Until he was forty-four years of age he had been 
the apostle of truth. The conversion to truth and 
reality had come to him in early boyhood and he 
had laboured with unremitting zeal to lay the 
foundations of the new order on a firm basis of 



demonstrated truth. He had reviewed and sifted 
all the abstract sciences man had then acquired and 
had discovered and taught the science of sociology 
the necessary prelude to the Religion of Humanity. 
He stood before the world as the acknowledged 
exponent of truth. The savants of Europe accepted 
the positive philosophy as the expression of the 
co-ordination of scientific reality. 

Then he met her who had already discovered, 
through the difficulties of her own life, the human 
sanction for right conduct and he became the apostle 
of goodness, the co-founder with her of the Religion 
of Humanity, where love, guided by truth, regulated 
and perfected life, and his " Positive Polity " was 
written which has been accepted by men of social 
feeling and synthetic brain as the guide to the 
Religion of the future. 

Dwelling on this union of truth and goodness 
stimulated his love of beauty, and in his final 
teaching he drew all things round the central idea 
of Humanity into one lovely and harmonious whole. 
The apostle of truth and goodness became the apostle 
of beauty. True beauty, a harmony of parts, could 
only be attained by uniting all things by the glow 
of human love, and this was no arbitrary conception 
but natural to man when once his eyes were opened 
to see truth and reality. " The real aesthetic era is 
still to come ". For the imagination of man must 
be brought into service as well as his reasoning power 
and his moral sense, this will help abstract medita- 
tion by making images more vivid, the one important 
proviso being to distinguish imagination from 



demonstrated truth. If this were clear there would 
be no danger of the loss of the reality which had 
been painfully attained through long ages of labour 
and research. 

Although the book was written, as we have seen, 
in 1856, he supposes himself to be writing in 1927 
(in this very yeaf), when he thought the belief in 
reality would be more firmly established and " many 
evils and hindrances would be cleared away " and 
" the leading minds regenerated ". Alas ! the upset 
of the war seems to have revived old superstitions, 
and the leading minds do not declare themselves. 

He did, however, consider the effect on men of 
his own day and recognised that practical men 
trained in science, and doctors, were prepared, in 
some degree, for the full synthesis. 

In the first sentence he sums up in a few words 
the three aspects, practical, theoretic and moral, of 
the problem man has to solve would he attain unity : 
" To subordinate progress to order, analysis to 
synthesis, egoism to altruism ", these are three 
aspects of one problem but the last is the source of 
the solution, " for order presupposes love, and 
synthesis can only be the result of sympathy ", 
the object of this work, written for teachers, is 
to guide universal education to this end. He him- 
self, he says, will only be able to deal with mathe- 
matics and morals, the two extremes of the scale, 
and their application to industry, the intermediate 
sciences he leaves to his successors. As he had 
declared that his predecessors, Descartes and 
Leibnitz, were the founders of positive philosophy 



in the past, so he acknowledged that the poetic 
idealisation of the synthesis would be the work of 
his successors, thus he could venerate the powers 
of the future as well as the past and recognised his 
own limitations. There was one principle which 
could lead to unity in Humanity and that was love, 
it was subjective and going out from Humanity 
united us to all things in and through her. Only 
through Her eyes and according to Her nature could 
we perceive the world. 

That all things may be referred to Humanity the 
fetichism of Her early days must be united with the 
positivism of her maturity, for it is the transference 
of the human feeling of the child and the primitive 
man to the things around them which makes love all 
pervading: ''Except ye become as little children 
ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven ", and this 
is also true of the heaven of the human imagination. 
The fetichism of childhood and of maturity are 
both subjective, but the first is absolute and the 
type is individual, the second relative and the type 
social. Between these two in the history of the race 
came the objective or theological explanation which 
was necesssary but passing. So transferring the 
social feeling to the Earth we feel that she is loving 
and we know that she is active, and although it 
would be confusing to imagine her endowed with 
intelligence, as her plans might clash with those of 
Humanity, we can, if we will, imagine her endowed 
with intelligence in the past consciously preparing 
herself for the life of Humanity, surrendering 
thought to her more happily endowed offspring. 



Our imaginings must always correspond with reality, 
that is, we must not imagine things opposed to 
demonstrated truth. An instance of this would be 
if we imagined the earth malevolent and inimical 
to human life, for the fact that the life of Humanity 
has been developed and perfected through the ages 
is proof positive that her surroundings have been on 
the whole beneficial. 

The Destiny which was vaguely worshipped in 
primitive times is summed up for us in the " First 
Philosophy ", the most abstract and general laws 
which apply to all things both to the world without 
and to man's nature, and on which, most fortunately 
we can build and they bring about in us that ' ' sub- 
mission " which " is the basis of all improvement ". 
Relieved from caprice, naturally attaching to the 
gods, science placed intellectual greatness on an 
exact submission of the within to the without. The 
growth of this led to the submission of reason to 
faith in the last theological religion; this was a 
sign of the free acceptance of the continuous author- 
ity of the past and future over the present. Even 
enforced submission tends to diminish egoism but 
by voluntary obedience sympathy is increased. 
Veneration for an inflexible destiny, because of its 
moral effect on man, becomes the sign and security 
for true regeneration. Love embraces the regulations 
imposed upon us. 

Love and worship must then be extended to the 
world and destiny. While the early worship of 
destiny was founded on fear the later is founded on 
love and gratitude. It has been foreshadowed in 



the East by the worship of the heaven, and in the 
West by the conception of the universal ether. But 
both these ideas require to be made subjective for 
the seat of this destiny is within. That inner space 
on which Humanity places her abstractions and 
where alone we find the perfect circle, triangle, or 
other idealisations of sense impressions. Some dim 
perception of this truth, that perfection can be found 
only in the ideal, inspired Plato's conception of all 
real things being but imperfect copies of the idea 
in the mind of God. This construction of Comte 
which has seemed difficult and fantastic to some is 
not arbitrary but simple truth founded on observa- 
tion of the working of the human mind. We have 
all known well the mature fetichism which has 
endeared the chair where the beloved has sat, and 
the clothes which have borne the impress, of the form, 
and of the love which they have been able to renew 
in our hearts, and the little bit of earth we call our 
home, how full of love and care it seems to us ! As 
we look at everything from the point of view of 
Humanity, as our outlook becames more social, we 
shall feel the inner space which has held Her thought 
steady and enabled us to comprehend Her past, as 
worthy of our love and the earth which has supported 
and made Her life possible as indeed the ancient and 
beneficient mother which the poets have described; 
the poets who have held fast to fetichist expressions 
through the most sceptical ages of man. 

We shall understand and feel the reality of the 
picture Comte draws of each child of man surrounded 
first by the loving care of Humanity, a threefold 



circle of family, country and the race, then by the 
little brothers who by beauty of fur and feather, 
by helpfulness and friendliness or pretty timidity 
endear themselves to him, by the lovely circle of 
trees, plants and flowers which bring shade, food 
and sweet scents and colours around him, by the 
circle of the water r pure, sparkling, cleansing and 
nourishing, by the air which never leaves him, some- 
times tender or boisterous, soft and balmy, or 
keenly invigorating, by our sun, moon and planets, 
and beyond, by the great background of the 
Heavens. Love or worship of all these is natural to 
the human heart. All is summed up in Humanity 
by whom they are made known to us, this is Her 
subjective synthesis, Her inward vision by which 
the many become one. This synthesis conceives all 
activity as guided by wisdom towards the universal 
harmony and the intellect receives new consecration 
and scope, for its aid is needed in connecting the 
present with the past and the future : 

" Look round our world ; behold the chain of Love 
Combining all below and all above." 

" Such is the world's great harmony, that springs 
From order, union, full consent of things : 
Where, small and great, where weak and mighty made 
To save, not suffer, strengthen, not invade ; 
More powerful each as needful to the rest 
And, in proportion as it blesses blest ; 
Draw to one point and to one centre bring 
Beast, man, or angel, servant, lord or king." 


Cornte had already shewn in the " Polity " the 



influence of feeling on thought and the three parts 
of logic, feeling, images and signs, but adapting 
it to the subjective synthesis he now altered its 
definition from the more restricted one " unveiling 
truths " and extended it to all our powers, the 
complete definition of logic being: " The normal 
concert of feelings, images and signs to inspire us 
with the conceptions which meet our moral, intel- 
lectual and physical wants ". 

The impulse of the heart alone though strong and 
deep would be vague and confused without the clear 
image and the accurate definition. These three 
methods are connected with the three stages, f etichist, 
theologic (especially polytheist) and positive, and 
positivism consecrates all three, bringing into concert 
strength of feeling, clearness of image and precision 
of signs ". Intellectual exertion is mainly under 
the control of the social instincts : " Attachment by 
arousing attention, Veneration by disciplining it, 
and Love (Sympathy) by directing it to its true 
destination ". " Signs and images are to be looked 
on as the auxiliaries of the feelings in elaborating 
thoughts ". Signs acquire their chief dignity as 
alone able to " institute communication between men 
and Humanity ". Space is the receptacle of all 
formulas, the earth supplies images, and Humanity 
is the supreme source of feeling. 

Dwelling upon the triumvirate will help us to 
appreciate submission. Although intellect is centred 
in Humanity we see Her existence rests on universal 
love. The earth voluntarily supports Humanity and 
as the whole existence of space consists of sympathy 

1 60 


its submission is complete owing to its passive nature. 
Thus the soul of the believer feels that the universal 
order bases improvement on submission. The Human 
providence is ever subject to order while perfecting 
it and the result is a noble obedience, for, not being 
capable of absolute power or of attaining all which 
She can imagine, the imperfections of Humanity 
tend to excite progress without recrimination or 
sense of degradation. 

The book then deals with the future teaching of 
mathematics. All things being referred to Humanity 
the historic point of view will be kept before the 
student as well as the dogmatic, and the parts taken 
by the fetichist, theocratic, Greek and modern 
peoples made clear. Arithmetic, he points out, is 
the important part of the calculus, algebra being 
only a method, the use of the ordinal numbers pre- 
ceded that of the cardinal as position was required 
before valuation. He traces the beginning of 
number before language to the three primaries easily 
perceived: I, 2, 3, unity, combination, progression, 
unity, order, progress, 
a synthesis, a combination, a 

Woman, Man, Child. 

He emphasises the great step taken in division, the 
method of approximation, by the theocratic priests 
over the three fetichist methods and its connection 
with fractions, the progress of geometry, and 
its application to astronomy, modern geometry and 
mechanics. The study of mathematics is a pre- 
paration in clearness, precision and consistence but 
L 161 


it can only be judged in its relation to the whole. 
It is the basis of the mental construction of which 
morals is the aim. Restricted to the base, material- 
ism and dryness result, a perpetual childhood of 
abstract reason; without the base, social and moral 
phenomena become incoherent and vague. Mathe- 
matics, therefore, must be the basis of all education 
and, taught historically, it develops veneration, 
losing the dryness with which it has been accused 
when studied as an end in itself. Comte suggested 
the universal use of the septimal scale and upheld 
it with careful reasoning. Mathematics is the study 
of space, the seat of abstract phenomena and 
universal law, but its three divisions, number, ex- 
tension and movement form a progression directed 
to Space, the Earth and Humanity, thus the mathe- 
matical prepares the universal synthesis and though 
geometry is logically the most important part, 
regarded scientifically, mechanics becomes so, as 
each science and division of science acquires dignity 
as it rises in the scale and approaches morals. 

After dealing fully with mathematics Comte 
ended the volume by urging the formation of a 
body of Positivist teachers which was the crying 
need of the time; and this is even more evident 
to-day than when he wrote, since the many means 
of acquiring knowledge, now at the service of all, 
leads to the mental incoherence he dreaded. How 
he himself could illuminate the subjects he taught 
and deprive them of all dryness even when he was 
only the apostle of truth is shewn by the words of 
his English pupil Hamilton who writes : "I could 



not feel, much less measure his greatness but i 
acquired an interest in the dry science he taught me 
and had I continued under his charge I might have 
become a mathematician ", and adds that he was 
at the time (< but dimly conscious of the value of 
lessons which I can never forget in their higher 
meaning, though the angles and curves which they 
explained have long since become to me more mean- 
ingless than hieroglyphics ". 


/ npHE work Comte was able to carry out was now 
JL finished, for the worn-out body could no longer 
support the demands of the brain. While he had 
left to his successors the intermediate volumes of the 
Subjective Synthesis he had intended himself to 
write the final and most important volume on morals 
and also a separate work on industry. Fortunately 
he had planned the chapters of his work on morals 
and the names of these combined with indications 
gleaned from his earlier writings give some idea of 
the line he would have taken. The work was to 
have consisted of two parts, the first volume on 
theoretic morals, that is, the science of individual 
conduct, the foundation of the general rules which 
are to guide us, and the second on practical morals, 
the education proper for each period of life. He had 
shewn that the science of morals, or of manners, the 
understanding of ourselves and others, was the 
highest and might even be called the only science 
since all the others are but introductory. The old 
English poet expressed the truth when he said, 
" Know thou thyself enough for man to know ", 



for before the nature of man can be fully under- 
stood all other truths must have been established. 
The laws of the earth which condition his existence, 
of the structure of his body, and of the growth of 
the society of which he forms a part, lead up to and 
find their completion in the one fully reasonable and 
positive study that of the soul of the individual man. 
The earlier sciences have to do with the conditions 
and the body of man, the latter with the soul, the 
soul depends upon the body therefore the sciences 
which have to do with the earth, the body and the 
social surroundings of men all form parts of the one 
sacred science, including all the knowledge it is 
possible for him to attain. In the former sciences 
the brain of man was sufficient to construct the 
scientific basis but in morals the active co-operation 
of the sexes was necessary. Woman had, from the 
earliest times, been occupied with practical morals, 
with the art of life, the understanding of the nature 
and regulation of the conduct of her children; and 
man had the habit of scientific observation, of ab- 
straction which was necessary for the formation of 
general rules. In morals the complete fusion of the 
masculine and feminine brain was necessary and we 
cannot understand the work of Comte unless we also 
understand the part taken by Clotilde in the regenera- 
tion of the world, unless we appreciate the humility 
of the greatest mind Humanity has produced in its 
recognition of the even greater importance of the 
heart. These two whom Humanity has joined 
together let no man put asunder. The " method " 
in morals is sympathy. It is the subjective method, 


the highest of all, drawn from within, by our own 
feelings we feel the joys and sorrows of others. 
Without this all the knowledge of which we have 
been speaking would be useless and even harmful 
but with it the added knowledge becomes of supreme 
importance, it harmonises our lives and helps us to 
harmonise the lives of those with whom we are 
brought in contact, for the saying of old is pro- 
foundly true: " Though I have all knowledge and 
have not charity I am nothing ". In the Introduc- 
tion Comte would have dealt with all the sciences 
which are the foundation of the science of man and 
would have shewn how he could increase, by grate- 
ful and loving acceptance, or diminish, by indiffer- 
ence and non-recognition, the beneficial influence of 
the seven circles on which his life depends and from 
which he cannot escape. Exactly in proportion to 
the sympathy he brings to bear upon his surround- 
ings does he derive spiritual benefit from them. 

The first chapter was to deal with the " Cerebral 
Theory ", the equipment by which man acts upon 
the world and receives its action. On this both the 
lowest and highest life depend, the vegetable life 
depends on renewal of substance and this means 
that the outer world is altered, something is taken 
out of the surroundings, and the being is also altered 
as something is taken in and assimilated causing its 
growth and development. In animal life where the 
substance required is at a distance the being must 
have sensibility, the power by which he realises that 
the outside thing is there, and the power of taking 
hold of it, he must be able to extend and shorten 



his muscles to reach distant things and bring them to 
himself. These two powers lie within the being and, 
in addition to these, there is something that lies 
between them, something that acts after the animal 
has received the impression of the outside object 
and before he draws it to himself. This " some- 
thing " consists of the instincts or desires which lie 
within the animal varying in number with his position 
in the scale, but in the case of man and the higher 
animals consisting of all the instincts we find in the 
table of the soul, from the desire for food, the 
lowest and most general, to the sympathy which 
finds its full fruition in the social existence of 
Humanity. These instincts well up spontaneously 
from within and lead to the connections between the 
brain of man and the outside world. 

How are these desires or feelings which make the 
vital spontaneity of the animal, to be themselves 
disciplined and brought into service, what power is 
to reach them ? Man is ready to modify and improve 
the world as his powers increase but what is to 
change the fierce animal who would seize and devour 
anything which he desires for the moment into that 
highest product we know, the intelligent humane man 
or woman regarding the surrounding sevenfold 
circles with reverence, and desiring the peace, happi- 
ness and mutual confidence of all creatures. The 
second chapter on the Theory of the Great Being 
would have dealt with this question. The one 
Humanity can itself be divided into a Trinity of 
circles which gradually surround the individual man 
and form and save his soul. First comes the Family 



which takes his lowest and most imperious instincts 
under its protection and by uniting them to some of 
his weaker and nobler feelings bind them in service. 
The instinct of sex and the fierce maternal instinct 
even in the most rudimentary family bring out 
tenderness and consideration for others and both 
unite to modify the entirely selfish or personal 
desire for food, so irresistible in the lonely un- 
disciplined animal. Then the Tribe or City takes 
under its protection the furious instinct of destruc- 
tion, the blind impulse to create, the strong desire 
to rule, the insidious wish to please, all these the 
larger social body gradually wins to social service 
uniting them with admiration of those who have 
already shewn their strength, their creative power, 
their ability to rule men, and their winning ways. 
And, finally, Humanity, revealing the social being 
who inhabits the whole earth and fill the halls of 
Time, unites all these feelings in the service of the 
highest desire natural to man, the instinct of 
sympathy or benevolence. Nor is it only the inner 
life of man that is improved and trained by these 
three beneficient beings, all his senses, his powers 
of hand and eye are first spontaneously developed 
in the home, then systematically trained under men 
of skill in the city, and, finally, all the inventions 
throughout the world, and in past ages, are brought 
to his service that his sense power may be indefinitely 
increased, that the most distant star and the minutest 
microbe may be visible to his eye, that voices from 
the remote distance may be heard and the cry for 
help of the drowning mariner reach the land in time 



to save, that the smallest change in the temperature 
of the blood or the slightest crackle of the lung or 
murmur of the heart may be revealed for the help 
of the physician, and every power of our senses may 
be magnified while the irritability and contractility 
by which the primitive creature perceived food and 
opened his niouth or stretched out a claw to grasp 
it becomes the understanding and calculating upon 
the distant food supplies and the power to send 
forth trains and ships to distant lands for the things 
we desire to possess. Thus the social beings re-act 
on the brains and lives of the beings which compose 
them and it is evident that would we understand 
man or know ourselves we must understand the con- 
ditions and effect of the composite lives which 
surround us. 

The third chapter, was to be entitled " The 
Theory of Unity ", Union, Unity, Continuity. 
All the desires which are found together in the soul 
of man would lead to agitation and disorder, each 
one clamouring for its own satisfaction unless they 
could find a common aim, unless the personal desires 
could be taught to serve the social and attain harmony 
and unity, and the individual man is so weak, his 
life so short, that it is only in the life of Humanity 
that his life can be continued, that his work can be 
appreciated and understood and his aims carried 
out. If his aims have been purely selfish they will 
fall with his life and be forgotten, only if he has 
striven for the life of Humanity will he find con- 
tinuity or immortality. Progress is found by 
absorption in something higher than self and this 



is true of the social organisms of which we have 
been speaking. The family which does not work 
consciously or unconsciously in the interests of the 
city, or community of which it forms a part, which 
pursues its own interests to the detriment of the 
whole, cannot attain 'harmony, its very existence 
will soon be threatened, at any rate its surroundings 
will soon be suspicious, resentful, hostile; and the 
country or empire which strives for its own expan- 
sion at the expense of others, exploiting the feeble, 
forgetting the harmony of Humanity, will at last 
find itself faced with a nemesis and will crumble to 
the dust. That the individual soul may attain 
unity and harmony not only he himself but the 
social beings on whom he depends must recognise 
and fulfil the law of love. The union between love 
and truth is never fully attained though we are 
always approaching it : ft Man tends to become mpre 
and more religious ". The unchangeable order is 
necessary outside man but it needs man to explain 
it, and the laws he observes are more regular than 
the outside world because they are abstractions, they 
are an average of the conditions. The universal 
harmony, in which freedom for each will be found, 
depends on the effect of lower things on higher as 
well as the opposite. Unless we all depended on 
the society around us anarchy would be the result, 
and if we could not modify the laws of society we 
should be automata. Progress implies life, the 
change on the surface of the earth is brought about 
by the living beings, vegetable and animal, who 
are constantly modifying it, and progress in 



Humanity is brought about by the generations of 
the living, as one by one they pass by, adding little 
or much in proportion to the energy and faithful- 
ness of their members. The influence of the past 
becomes stronger, we learn from it, honouring the 
outworn beliefs as the best possible at the time, 
going forward on the same upward path but with 
a better compass to guide us, a compass we owe to 
the efforts of those who have gone before. Union 
then, the coming together under the influence of 
feeling, has led, and will lead more perfectly, to 
unity of thought, and this social union with a 
common aim results in the continuity of man. 

The fourth chapter was to be the " Theory of 
Life M : " Existence, Health, Disease ". Existence, 
or life, consists in the action and interaction between 
the living being and its surroundings; health, or 
ease, is the condition when this takes place without 
any friction, when the living being, vegetable or 
animal, finds in its surroundings all that it requires 
and is capable of absorbing and turning it to use; 
disease ts the condition when that harmony is broken, 
either by the failure of the outside condition, or of 
the being itscif. If rhe want of harmony be carried 
beyond a. certain point death is the result. In disease 
some part of 'he body is sluggish and drags behind 
the other parts, or is feverish and functions too 
quickly. Health is harmony between the brain and 
all the other parts of the body. What causes the 
disturbance of this harmony, where is the root of 
it? It has two roots, or possible causes, the one 
lies outside and the other within, and the proportion 



between these two causes is constantly changing as 
the animal rises in the scale of being. In the lower 
forms of life and in the earliest stages of man's 
existence the cause is generally from without, but 
in the later life of man in society it is most frequently 
from within. Man in society is comparatively pro- 
tected from outside dangers. Food has been stored 
up to guard against famine, clothes and houses and 
artificial warmth protect him from the extremes of 
the climate and floods and tempests, but with 
civilisation the inner life becomes more complicated, 
man is a finer instrument and the balance is more 
easily disturbed; even when the illness comes from 
without it can be very largely modified by the state 
of the mind of the patient. Those who attend the 
patient should remember that they form a part of 
the outer conditions that may affect him all the 
more profoundly because of the bonds of sympathy 
that unite them; calmness and helpfulness may be 
the determining factor as to his recovery or death. 
The positivist doctrine recognises both roots of 
disturbance and while realising the dependence of 
the mind on the body and on external conditions, 
it also recognises the power of the mind to re-act on 
these. Thus positivism avoids the Scylla of 
materialism which chains the soul to the body and 
the Charybdis of idealism which gives no anchorage 
or firm resting-place. Depending as we do on our 
senses for our communication with the outside, and 
interaction with the surroundings, it would seem to 
follow that the man who had all his senses acute and 
in full working order must be the most successful, 



and this is true with the savage man surrounded by 
external dangers, he scents danger from afar and 
hears and sees in time to secure his safety, but with 
civilised man the case is different, ill-health or even 
the loss of a sense sometimes intensifies the inner 
life and stimulates the sufferer to efforts to overcome 
his difficulties which carry him in attainment far 
beyond his fellows. How many cases of this kind 
there are in the past. Saint Theresa was an invalid, 
Milton, in his blindness, sang: " so much the more 
celestial light shine inward ", and in our own day, 
Henry Fawcett rose above his blindness and lived a 
life of active public work, Helen Kellar, in what 
seemed the hopeless condition of blindness and deaf- 
ness, became an accomplished woman and authoress, 
and Frederick Walsh, speechless and apparently cut 
off from all communication, won through and under- 
stood, and even attained sainthood in, the religion of 
Humanity. The harmony between the bodily ex- 
istence and the mental life is only found when 
sympathy prevails over selfishness. Very often the 
source of the illness lies in the affections or desires 
and the cause is lack of altruism. When the harmony 
of nations is disturbed and peaceful industry is 
replaced by fierce passions and war, plague and 
pestilence follow, This is by no means the result 
only of the evil outer conditions produced, it is 
also caused by the fever of the mind, the unrest, 
the agitation, the fear and hatred engendered, and 
often in private life when our minds are upset (a 
condition of disease) some personal feeling has been 
aroused, we have been slighted or ill-used, or those 



we love have been wrongly treated and our anger 
is excited. These feelings upset our bodily organs, 
we cannot digest our food, our nerves are overstrained 
and we are predisposed to any illness that may be 
about. The master tells us "to seek outside our- 
selves the sources of our actions and conduct' 1 . 
In Humanity is our health and strength, if we throw 
ourselves into the stream of her life all our grievances 
will be washed away, we shall be absorbed in the 
larger life and some degree of health will be our 
portion. The fully healthy life can only come when 
the social conditions are altered. While our fellows 
are in anxiety for their daily bread, while children 
perish of starvation we can hardly desire to be our- 
selves perfectly happy and, therefore, we shall not 
be altogether healthy, but the more we let the WE 
prevail over the I, the more we seek the good of others 
rather than our own selfish gratifications, the more 
we control our tempers and develop our sympathy, 
the more nearly shall we attain true health, for he 
who loses his life shall find it. The influence of the 
brain on the body when reinforced by the social 
brain, by the opinions and thoughts of those around, 
and of men who have lived in the past, becomes 
very strong and when we come to the influence of 
Humanity on her own nature and on the world outside 
we find it impossible to limit it or to say how much 
more may be attained. 

The three last chapters were to deal with "Feeling, 
Intelligence and Activity lf . The fifth on Feeling 
is divided into " Personality, Sociality and Moral- 
ity ". The personal and the social instincts are 


both necessary and in their varied combinations form 
the differing characters which make a combined 
social life possible. Every variety of normal human 
being is necessary to fit into the different require- 
ments of Humanity, the love of power, of approba- 
tion, or even of destruction can be enlisted in social 
service ; he in -whom the destructive instinct is strong 
may become the pioneer, to clear away either the 
primeval forest or the modern social evil, while one 
who loves construction can build the log hut, or plan 
the new social order. He who loves power may 
marshal his fellows in service, and he who desires 
praise may win them to it, and the varying degrees 
of love, reverence and pity are so great that we lose 
ourselves in trying to see the endless variety. It is 
this personality or individuality that we love in our 
friends and which makes it impossible that one 
should ever take the place of another. Each man 
should have the work especially adapted to his 
powers and idiosyncrasy, and with the education of 
every child in the meaning of Humanity little more 
will be needed to control the strong natures and make 
them see that the true path to success is in turning 
their exceptional powers to the service of the whole. 
When the personal part of our nature serves the 
social then we have attained morality, the harmony 
of life. 

The title of the sixth chapter was to be " Theory 
of the Intelligence ", " Abstract Reason^ Concrete 
Reason, Mental Harmony" . There are two kinds of 
reason which must work together if mental harmony 
is to be the result. The one is the power of abstract 



reasoning, of perceiving the general truths which lie 
within and behind all passing events, the other is 
the power of dealing with the problems of the 
moment and deciding wisely and quickly. In the 
thoroughly capable man or woman these two are 
combined, but they are often separated and one man 
is much occupied with abstract truth but is not 
capable of dealing with the problems of daily life, 
while another is so occupied with daily life that he 
does not trouble about general truths at all. An 
extreme example of the first is that of Ampere who 
is said to have been so occupied with his problem 
that he wrote it on the back of a cab thinking it 
was a blackboard and when the cab moved on ran 
with it without noticing that the cab was moving. 
The average Englishman is generally supposed to 
represent the other type being entirely occupied with 
practical work. In the life of Humanity mental 
harmony is found when the intellectual and practical 
men work together, the practical acknowledging and 
submitting to the supremacy of the abstract or 
general laws and the intellectual man allowing com- 
plete freedom to the practical in carrying out the 
work of daily life. 

The harmony of feeling being attained by love 
drawing self into service and of thought by the 
balance of abstract thought with that relating to the 
immediate problems before us, the harmony of 
action will follow naturally, and the seventh 
chapter was to be called : "Theory of the Activity : 
Practical, Philosophic, Poetic ". Man's action 
takes three differing forms: first, the practical^ 



which is generally called " action " 9 because it 
deals with the actual things around us, moulding 
them to the use of man; second, the philosophic, 
by which man strives to unite things into one 
coherent whole, to find the general laws underlying 
all passing events; and third, the poetic, which 
idealises both thought and action and raises the 
whole of life to a higher level of beauty. The more 
these three are united the more complete the 
individual, the more satisfactory his life. The 
practical man should enter into the wider meaning 
of which his work forms part, and should idealise 
that work, and the relationships of daily life. The 
philosopher should understand and share in practical 
life and in its idealisation, and the poet should so 
comprehend practical life and thought that his 
idealisations may be on the lines of possible progress. 
There is one kind of work in which all three must 
be combined and which is therefore the best symbol 
or type of the life of Humanity. It is that of the 
mother. If she is to succeed in her task of the 
making of men and in women she must be practical, 
that she may train her children ; n order and punctu- 
ality, in precision and accuracy so necessary in 
practical work, scientific investigation or artistic 
construction. She must not be only practical or she 
will cramp and starve the higher aspirations of the 
future. She needs a philosophic outlook which con- 
nects her with the larger life of the world, not only 
with the active life of the generation in which she 
lives but with the past and with the future, with 
the life of Humanity. Last, but not least, she 

M 177 


needs the poetic or ideal view of life that she may 
help her children to rise from the details of daily 
life and physical necessities 

"Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot 
Which men call Earth". 

The three forms of activity are all necessary in the 
life of the world, they are three parts of the one 
thing, the synergy or united action which is the 
result of socialised feeling united to harmonised 
thought. For philosophy brings the efforts of the 
present into line with the past, and poetry shews the 
possibilities of development in the future, and 
practice plods along towards it. This union of the 
three would make life beautiful with very little 
external change, for it is the inner life which 
glorifies the outer. 

The heading of the conclusion of the theory of 
morals is " Synthesis, Sympathy, Religion ". 
In order to arrive at the best kind of conduct, at 
the practical morals which is the aim and crown of 
the whole life work of the master, in order that 
every child of man may have the best kind of 
education from the cradle to the grave, these three 
are necessary; Synthesis, unity of thought, summed 
up in the one centre, dedicated to one purpose. 
This " thought unity " can only be formed within 
through comprehension of the life of Humanity. 
For if we try to centralise our thoughts on any 
outside power we have two centres, our thoughts turn 
to Humanity even while we are striving to concen- 
trate them on God or Nature. Only such men as 
the hermits of the middle ages or some eastern 
mystics could attain a synthesis outside Humanity, 


and how precarious it was ! always liable to be 
upset by recrudescence of human feelings. In the 
synthesis of Humanity the will is not imposed from 
without but grows from within, it is not superior 
to labour regarding it as a curse but recognises it 
as one of the greatest blessings, by humble patient 
labour Humanity has conquered the earth and 
through it man has ascended the ladder of life. 
All things are made one for us in and by the mind 
of Humanity and we have no other way to learn 
save through Her mind without us, or using our 
portion of Her mind within. The object of syn- 
thesis, or unity of thought, is that all may be 
brought within the realm of sympathy. " The 
heart of man cannot conceive " how rapid the change 
would be in the whole conditions of life if once the 
method of sympathy prevailed. Love easily blends 
with love, goodness with goodness. St. Thomas 
tells us it is difficult to live with hard and perverse 
persons but only love can overcome hate and good- 
ness evil, and sympathetic understanding should 
meet every case. Three voices were raised soon after 
the rebirth of the French Revolution to express the 
desire that love should reach the evil as well as the 
good. Wordsworth, speaking of the man who 
communed with nature and entered into the aspira- 
tions of Humanity, says : 

"He looks around 

And seeks for good and finds the good he seeks 
Until abhorrence and contempt are things 
He only knows by name and if he hear 
From other mouths the language which they speak 
He is compassionate and has no thought, 
No feeling which can overcome his love." 


And Shelley makes Prometheus, the embodiment of 
progress, cry when he foresees the downfall of 
Jupiter the tyrant : 

" Disdain ? Ah, no, I pity thee, 
I speak in grief 

Not exultation for I hate no more 
As then ere misery made me wise." 

And the third is the voice to which we delight to 
listen, that of Clotilde de Vaux as she says : 

" The wicked are more in need of pity than the good." 

Thus thought uniting all, and the highest social 
instinct being the method of our dealing with each 
other, and with the earth and her surroundings, 
Religion will be attained, there will be harmony, 
our minds will reflect the external world well and 
truly, our love will unite all things within. If 
these things look Utopian we have only to look back 
to see how the Utopias of the past have become 
realities of the present, and wherever a Utopia has 
constantly recurred we may be sure that even if it 
be never attained the course of Humanity will be 
towards it. This makes us sure that the ideal of 
peace will be realised and the nations will live in 
unity in Her, nay, that there will be peace between 
man and the higher animals, for how often that 
desire has been in the heart of Humanity, that 
Utopia in her imagination. The biological league 
which Comte predicted has been foreshadowed again 
and again never more beautifully than in the Hebrew 
Scriptures : 



" The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and 
the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and 
the calf and the young lion and the fatling 
together; and a little child shall lead them ", 

Fetichism and positivism united, Humanity lead- 
ing while her heart has become as that of a little 
child. The beautiful Utopias of the race will mould 
mankind in their likeness, they are the ideals 
Humanity creates that she may attain them. The 
Utopia of the Eucharist, that each believer partaking 
of the actual body of the God would grow in his 
likeness, had a profound effect in Europe in the 
middle ages. The advance of man may be traced 
in the perfecting of the Utopias through the ages as 
shewn in Religion. There has been a constantly 
recurring Utopia connected with woman beginning 
in very early times when many coarse rites per- 
formed by her were still continuing (these rites 
themselves being connected with her function of 
motherhood in which the highest attribute of 
Humanity, her continuity, is founded). This Utopia 
is the realisation of purity and tenderness, the 
qualities of the maiden and of the mother, symbol- 
ised by the lily and the rose, the dove and the 
pelican, and in many other ways. In the Greek 
days these qualities were separated and were the 
attributes of different goddesses, Pallas Athena and 
Aphrodite. Pallas Athena, whose birth was an 
immaculate conception, was the goddess of wisdom 
and purity, but tenderness was not her attribute. 
In the middle ages both qualities were united in 


the Madonna whose birth was also immaculate but 
her highest attribute was purity. In Humanity 
tenderness and purity are again combined but of all 
human attributes tenderness is the highest. Thus 
does the Religion of Humanity put forward the 
highest ideal to guide all relations of life. Attained 
completely we can never hope to see it but it will 
be more and more nearly attained as the genera- 
tions pass, each one bringing its tribute to the 
greatest of all creations the creation and develop- 
ment of the life of Humanity. 



" Shall I stay captive i' the outer Court 
Surprised with that, and not advance to know 
Who dwells there and inhabiteth the house?" 


'THHE whole work of Comte, the Foundation, the 
JL Main Building and the Superstructure had but 
one object, the shelter of the soul; that man and 
woman might realise the dignity of the human 
destiny and feeling themselves a part of a larger 
life might be saved from loneliness, from isolation 
and from 

"the miserable aims that end with self." 

The volume on Practical Morals may be summed up 
in one word : Education, education which has a 
series of steps proper to each phase of life beginning 
with conception and ending only with death. The 
passage of the soul from the past to the future 
would then be a continuous development, the treasure 
handed on by those who have gone before would 
be guarded and increased for the benefit of those 
who come after. 

Mutual love, Clotilde had pointed out, was a 


necessity for successful marriage, and the pair 
thus prepared for parenthood, and feeling its 
supreme importance in the life of Humanity would 
begin the education of the child from conception. 
As the body of the mother is guarded from harm 
so her mind should be guarded from evil and 
from petty or sordid feelings. She is creating the 
mind and body of the child and whether she will 
or no must influence his destiny; all who are 
brought in contact with her should help her in this 
task. The child should be received into a world of 
love, should hear no harsh words and feel no un- 
gentle touch; during infancy his love has to be 
brought out to all around him, to people, animals 
and things. At this period attachment is developed 
which gives him certainty and tenacity in after-life; 
now too he must learn obedience that later he may 
take his part in ordered service. 

As he passes from infancy to childhood, when 
his powers of hand and eye are growing, he should 
see and hear beautiful things. At this period his 
taste is formed, and the ideals set before him should 
be worthy of imitation. As he passes from child- 
hood to youth and his powers of mind increase he 
must learn the art of reasoning, must be "initiated" 
in the methods of the sciences, in deduction, obser- 
vation, experiment, definition, comparison and in 
history and morals. Having received training in 
love, in beauty and in truth, he will be of age, and 
be able himself to understand the doctrine of 
Humanity and to enter Her service. A woman, 
having received the same education, will generally 


soon after this time become herself the centre of a 
family, and will be prepared by motherhood to 
exercise her threefold function, moral, spiritual and 
temporal: " To warn, to comfort, to command ", 
but a man will for some time make trials of skill, 
testing his powers until he has finally decided on 
his work in' life, he will then be dedicated, con- 
secrated to the service of Humanity that he may 
not strive for his own hand alone, or exploit or 
overreach his fellows, but, whatever his work may 
be, do it for the benefit of all. He will strive to 
perfect himself in that work and will learn venera- 
tion for the masters of his craft in the past and in 
the present, for the fathers of the city and for noble 
ideals. This veneration will steady his action and 
make him a mature man, one whose judgment can 
be relied on in adversity and prosperity. He will 
have formed a family and adapted his strength to 
the needs of those weaker than himself. He will 
learn his double duty as expressed in the master's 
words : 

" In the normal order every man ought continu- 
ally to reconcile two different occupations, on 
the one hand his special labours, on the other 
hand his just solicitude with respect to the 
general economy. Social harmony would be 
as much compromised by the habitual abandon- 
ment of great public interests as by chronic 
neglect of real private duties ". 

Having exercised his powers to the full he will find 


he has another lesson to learn, he has to be educated 
for a further advance. 

Leaving the active work to younger men his 
function will be advisory. His advice must be ready 
for his successors. It will also be sought on general 
matters, for no longer having to struggle in active 
life he will have a more tolerant outlook, his long 
experience of life will have helped him to under- 
stand difficulties and temptations, and sympathy 
and goodwill to all should become his leading 
characteristics. This harmony and goodwill will 
gradually prepare him to pass into the subjective 
life where he will become an influence for good, and 
will help to build up the ideal which is to inspire the 
children of the future. By " seeking not his own " 
he will have entered into the larger life and will 
have found a satisfaction and joy that selfish aims 
can never give; all the sides of his nature developed 
his education will be complete. 

1 86 


" I see in you the estuary that enlarges and spreads itself 
grandly as it pours in the great sea." 


THE eleven years from Clotilde's death until he 
himself passed into the subjective life were 
years of steady progress towards perfection. He 
gradually disciplined his life both physical and 
intellectual. Fie took two meals a day, the first 
principally of milk, the other more solid, at the 
end of which he was accustomed to eat a piece of 
bread slowly, thinking of all those who could only 
obtain this simple food with difficulty, of the masses 
whose suffering had inspired his life's work. Coffee, 
tobacco and wine he had given up and now he 
abstained from second-rate reading, dwelling more 
and more with the masterpieces of the race. Every 
year he re-read Homer, Dante and St. Thomas a 
Kempis. He rose at five and went to bed at ten, 
spending the first and last hour in prayer, filling 
his mind in the morning with the image of his 
beloved, and, in the evening, bringing every thought 
and action of the day before her, comparing them 


with the standard her example and nature had set 
up in his soul. Thus he attained more and more 
complete mastery over himself and could foresee 
when a long and difficult work would be finished ; 
he transformed his ardent, suspicious and impatient 
disposition until it became calm and gentle, sunny 
and long suffering like the ideal in his heart. " I 
have reduced ", he says, " the discipline of human 
nature to the constant culture, direct and indirect, 
of the sympathetic instincts as the source of duty, 
of happiness and of health ". " His manner ", 
says one of his English disciples, " was that of 
the old school of French gentlemen; simply dressed, 
not striking in bodily presence, he possessed much 
natural dignity ". "He was kindly and at some 
times even playful and did not obtrude his 
opinions ". 

From 1851, when many of those who did not 
care for religious reconstruction fell away from 
him, the Positivist Society became like one family 
with friendly intercourse between its members united 
by their admiration of the master, who helped them 
to reform old habits and avoid old errors. He 
made a choice of books, The Positivist Library of 
the Nineteenth Century, which contains intellectual 
treasures in poetry, science, history, religion and 
philosophy, which he advised them to read in place 
of the many futile publications in common use. All 
his mental and moral powers were shewn in the 
sacraments he conferred, and those who took part 
in them felt an emotion the memory of which was 
never lost. " Religion ", said one who was present, 



opened the treasures of her grace and showered upon 
her children her most precious gifts : peace, con- 
centration of mind, love, faith, charity ". Many 
of his followers regarded the years in which they 
were privileged to know him as the happiest of their 
lives. They looked forward to the Wednesday 
evenings when the meetings were held, and as each 
large volume of the " Polity " was published 
devoured it eagerly. He was deeply convinced of 
the intimate connection between right thinking and 
right conduct, and his object was to form a body 
of men and women who should make the religion of 
Humanity the inspiration of their thought and the 
guide of their lives. 

Sophie's constant protecting care led to her 
adoption as his daughter, and to the reception of 
her husband and children into his home, thus the 
alliance between the philosopher and the people, 
which he preached, was fulfilled in his own experi- 
ence. For the first time since his childhood he 
tasted the peace and happiness of domestic life and 
drew from it deep draughts of inspiration. Clotilde 
and Sophie became sisters in his heart, his two 
adopted daughters; for his worship and meditations 
had convinced him that he would have carried out 
his resolution made before her death of adopting 
Clotilde as his daughter, even though he had learned 
she loved him; they could not have gone back from 
the ideal relation to which they were called by social 
duty. He had formulated the duty of the partners 
in an unhappy marriage. The duty of the husband 
was a monetary one, he must support the wife. Both 



might seek consolation in a happier connection but 
it must remain a connection of heart and mind alone. 
He rejoiced that in spite of the isolation of his life 
he had been blessed by the devoted love of three 
noble women, Rosalie, Clotilde and Sophie. 

In 1852 he met Captain Marie at Clotilde's tomb 
who clasped his hand expressing gratitude for 
Comte's continued worship of her, and after that 
Comte associated her father with her, remembering 
that meeting and how he had visited him after her 
death and had requested that the MS. of " Wilhel- 
mine " should be given to him. 

On the first day of every year he was cheered by 
messages or visits from his disciples. 

But even in these happiest years of his life he had 
many trials and difficulties, he was " a man of 
sorrows ", as are all who strive to bear the burdens 
of others and open a path of progress. He was 
struggling with poverty and says, sadly, that while 
those working for regeneration need not fear now 
for life and liberty, as in the days of old, yet 
material oppression demands a deeper and more 
continuous resignation. When engaged on his 
" Polity " he was able to put the thought of this 
aside but when that was concluded in 1854 it caused 
him serious anxiety, especially for two reasons, one 
that he feared he should be unable to pay the annuity 
to his wife, and the other that he should have to 
give up the apartment so precious to him because 
there his Vita Nuova had begun. 

The more nearly his finely sensitive temperament 
approached a normal condition of calm the more 



profoundly was it shaken by any want of harmony 
but when this happened he strove at once to recover 
his equilibrium by turning again to his ideal. His 
weekly visit to the church of St. Paul inspired him 
with more sympathy for Catholicism, it led to his 
final reconciliation with his father and sister and 
suggested the .religious league to his mind. Speak- 
ing of his volume on history, he said : 

" This incomparable voyage through the entire 
range of human history will facilitate all my 
future labours by making me feel the influence 
of the past more deeply. Catholicism had 
thrown off the Greco-Roman past, protestantism 
rejected the Middle Ages, and deism threw off 
all continuity. Positivism accepts the whole 
past as the gradual development of the one 
religion. Every political upset is a hindrance 
to religious reorganisation, only a return to calm 
can lead to progress and the disturbance of 
foreign relations is incompatible with aspira- 
tions after a better order. The true solution 
of social questions is religious ". 

" Positivism restates the programme sketched by 
the Middle Age. To regulate public and private 
life by placing intellect under the guidance of 
feeling. The anarchy of the West first affected 
international relations and it is upon these that 
the new spiritual power should begin to assert 
its influence. The first object of the reorganisa- 
tion is to reawaken in the weak veneration for 
the strong by an exceptional devotion of the 
strong to the weak ". 


During the conception of each of his principal 
works Comte' s fine organisation subjected him to a 
physical crisis. The milieu of the Revolution and 
the fatalities of his own career were not favourable 
to his central equilibrium. The " Philosophy ", 
united to his domestic trials, brought the terrible 
crisis of 1826; the "Polity", a long period of 
fever ending in erysipelas, the " Subjective Syn- 
thesis " was preceded by a nervous crisis and his 
meditation on morals added to two painful shocks 
which he experienced, was more than his weakened 
body could bear and resulted in his death. 

In April, 1857, his friend, the statesman Viellard, 
became ill. He had watched Comte' s career sympa- 
thetically from the first, had intervened more than 
once in his favour with the authorities and had said, 
speaking of the " Positive Philosophy " in 1848, 
" However blind those in power may be I cannot 
believe that they really wish to stop the only 
discipline which can touch the hearts and minds of 
the people to-day ". Comte visited him in his illness 
and the bond between them was drawn closer. 
Almost immediately afterwards Viellard died, 
having left directions that his body should be buried 
in the common grave without any religious service. 
This was a double shock to Comte, who probably 
hoped he would have publicly declared his accept- 
ance of the Religion of Humanity. 

In addition to the shock he, misdirected, and 
hurrying to the funeral, was caught in a storm and 
took a severe chill. He became very ill, but by 
strict regimen, with the care of Sophie, began to 



recover when a disappointment with regard to one 
of his young disciples whom he had regarded with 
warm affection came as a second blow. His emotion 
was followed by a return of fever and prostration. 
He again rallied and resumed his correspondence 
and interviews. In July he passed through a time 
of great suffering borne with patience and strength 
of soul. He wished to live especially that he might 
write his book on morals and find and install his 
successor. His strength of will kept him alive for 
some time and, in the presence of death, his intel- 
lectual vigour and moral serenity were unimpaired. 
Dr. Robinet attended him and, on the 3ist, Auguste 
Comte asked him for his opinion on his condition. 
Robinet *s courage failed him, but that evening he 
wrote telling him that his condition was desperate. 
The next morning Comte spoke of the letter and 
reproached Robinet for his weakness saying he had 
done all he could to preserve his life and had made 
all arrangements in case of his death and therefore 
there was nothing to be done but wait calmly to 
see what the end would be : 

" Then leaving the present his conversation turned 
to his hopes for the future. He spoke of the 
work he had done and the plans he had made 
to hasten the advent of positivism. Then 
abandoning himself to the usual ardour of his 
friendly outpourings he turned the conversation 
to the highest regions of religious action, con- 
templating our regenerated descendants enjoy- 
ing all his genius had conceived for the grandeur 
N 193 


and improvement of man. Such as I had seen 
him in his greatest days at the time of his public 
lectures at the Palais Cardinal, with all the fire 
of the noblest aspirations, such I saw him now. 
The ardour and majesty of his soul illumined 
his face, transforming his features and his 
voice. Instead of a dying man I had the 
Founder of Positivism before me as full of 
grandeur and of strength as I had ever known 
him. With an overpowering sentiment of 
enthusiasm and of sorrow, of confidence and of 
despair, I reverently kissed his wasted hands. 
It was the last time I was to hear his voice ". 
(" The Life and Works of Auguste Comte ".) 

On the evening of the 4th September he became 
worse and Madame Thomas wished to send for 
Dr. Robinet but Comte desired her to wait until the 
morning. His heart full of the past, meditating 
on his beloved friend, his hopes, as we have seen, 
ardently fixed on the future he was not oblivious 
of the present, he thought of his children, as he 
called them, of Sophie and her husband who had 
long watched over him, he had compassion on their 
weariness and begged, nay almost commanded, them 
to go to rest. They obeyed him so far as to leave 
the room but only to watch outside the door for they 
knew he was not fit to be left alone. The end was, 
indeed, very near, he sank into unconsciousness but 
before he passed into eternal silence one sign of life 
there was. He opened his eyes and fixed them with 



a look of love and gratitude on the flowers Clotilde 
had made and given him and then the brain of 
" The Thinker ", the modern " Master of those 
that know " was at rest and the heart of the Lover 
of mankind ceased to beat. The earnest desire 
of this noble and tender heart that he and the 
three he loved to think of as his guardian angels 
should be united in one grave could not be 
realised, and his disciples laid him in Pere la Chaise 
not far from the resting-place of Clotilde, on a 
spot he had chosen himself near the grave of Elise 
Mercoeur the poetess. 

Oh suffering race of Man, your lonely plight 

Inspired my youth to seek and find the way 

To loftier realms, where Love might sweetly sway 

Your thoughts and lives ; could you but scale the height ! 

Through toilsome years I strove with zeal and might 

To hew the path through which salvation lay, 

By steepest rocks to realms of glorious day ; 

Then, wearied, paused, the end not yet in sight. 

Borne on strong wings of Love, One swiftly passed 
And reached the height for which I strove in vain, 
She beckoning turned and on me, wearied, cast 
A gracious smile which nerved me to attain. 
Now, from the height, the lovely plain we scan 
Where Heaven on Earth is found, the home of Man. 



" Per letiziar lassu folgor s'acquista." 

-Paradiso IX 

BEFORE Comte died he felt that the religion 
of Humanity had been proclaimed to the world, 
and believed that fervent disciples would be found 
to preach and perfect it. How has his prophecy 
been fulfilled in the years since his death? As to 
the date of its systematic acceptance it has certainly 
failed, but the ablest seaman, while he can tell the 
date at which a ship should reach its destination, 
cannot tell what tempests, head winds, undercurrents 
or other causes may delay the voyage. Had Comte 
himself lived longer he might have influenced the 
rapidity of the change, for his voice was beginning 
to be heard in many lands, the last work he had 
planned, his volume on Industry, would have 
appealed to leading practical men, and his followers 
would have profited by his direct guidance, for 
Comte was the truly modern man, the embodiment 
of the new age in which the social outlook is 
consciously attained and dominates the whole of 
life. He was the modern man while we grope and 
stumble towards modernity, our mental make-up 



resembling that of a snake whose parched and dried 
skin has parted shewing a little of the beauty and 
promise of the future while all the rest is dim, dusty 
and outworn. France seems to have sold her birth- 
right and abandoned any attempt at religious con- 
struction, probably the disturbance which led to the 
Franco-Prussian war and the bitter resentment which 
was its consequence, delayed her development though 
Gambetta was Comte's follower, and the cultured 
Parisian, who may be of any class and is frequently 
a workman, has still the most central outlook among 
the sons of Humanity. Faithful apostles in many 
lands have not been lacking. As Comte foresaw, 
the most devoted have been found in the Portuguese 
and Spanish settlements in South America. In 
Brazil the Republic was peacefully established under 
the leadership of Benjamin Constant, an avowed 
Positivist, the motto " Order and Progress " being 
chosen for the national flag, while in public affairs 
the positivists have exercised a marked influence. 
They have instituted the public celebration of many 
historic types and the last act of Senhor Mendes, 
their revered leader, was connected with the statue 
of St. Francis of Assissi to be erected in Rio. 
In the older civilisations their voices have been more 
drowned but in England they have faithfully 
proclaimed the doctrine with regard to Gibraltar, 
India, Egypt, Ireland, China, Trades Unions and 
other matters, while much of the improvement in 
Poor Law administration, sanitation and the general 
care of health is due to the strenuous labours of 
Dr. Bridges, one of Comte's followers who " re- 



nounced private practice to devote himself to public 
work ". In Liverpool a Temple of Humanity has 
been erected of which the beauty and dignified 
simplicity is recognised across the Atlantic. 

Small indeed have been the conscious and systema- 
tic results compared with what might have been, but 
only seventy years have elapsed since the premature 
death of Comte, and, it must be remembered, he 
continually emphasised the fact that there are two 
ways in which the religion of Humanity may come. 
The one, the conscious and systematic of which we 
have spoken, that is, by the acceptance of the 
doctrine and the attempt to put it into practice, the 
other, the spontaneous and unconscious, by the 
gradual dissolving of the old and formation of the 
new order. " All men are ", he says, " especially in 
the present day, spontaneous positivists at different 
stages of evolution which only need completeness ". 

To those who have had the privilege of observing 
society for over half a century, with the enlighten- 
ing help of the doctrine of Humanity, the change 
in this respect has been very marked in all spheres 
of thought and activity. Much careful scientific 
observation has been carried on, notably in anthro- 
pology. Royalty is everywhere passing away, 
hereditary titles are losing their glamour, dictators 
tend to arise, and in the country which Comte 
thought would be second in the acceptance of 
the religion of Humanity a dictator has arisen 
from the people who has tried to introduce order 
into a disorganised society and to foster habits 
of discipline and devotion to work, unfortunately 



he has not fulfilled the indispensable condition of 
allowing spiritual liberty and freedom of speech, 
and rather resembles a dictator of the past than of 
the future a position which must inevitably lead to 
reaction. Turning to our own country, although the 
ruling classes have not risen, as Comte hoped, to the 
realisation of the grandeur of the work of accom- 
plishing re-organisation without revolution and have 
lately, e.g. in the struggle over miners' wages, been 
engaged in delaying the incorporation of all 
workmen into society, still, much has been gained. 
Beautiful parks with costly and rare flowers are 
secured and tended for the enjoyment of the 
poorest citizens. Public playgrounds with appliances, 
far better than those provided for the wealthy fifty 
years ago, are ready for the little ones. Games, 
dancing and the arts which teach control and grace 
of body are doing away with the class conscious- 
ness so evident a short time ago, the wives and 
daughters of the workmen can scarcely be 
distinguished in the streets from their wealthier 
sisters. Suffering enough remains, but the dissolving 
process has begun, class distinction is passing away 
and the one Humanity is being realised. Cruel and 
revolting doctrines are preached and forgotten such 
as " the destruction of the old and diseased ", 
c compulsory birth control ', and through it all 
devoted doctors are striving with all their skill to 
save and succour the diseased, and nurses are 
sacrificing their health and their careers to keep those 
alive who have lost all but life. Miners instead of 
securing their own safety are going into the burning 



pit to lose their lives in the effort to save their 
fellows. Everywhere men and women are realising 
that improvement depends on self control and on 
the gradual advance of the whole, that acts of 
cruelty and tyranny defeat themselves by lowering 
the general standard of feeling. Consideration for 
animals has increased as shown by the Bird 
Sanctuaries, and such institutions as the Horse 
processions are a foretaste of the " Festival of 
the Animals ", when the lesser brethren will be 
honoured in the Temple of Humanity. The 
improvement in Poor Law Infirmaries, which now 
compare favourably with the .best, the care of 
children brought up by the State, old age pensions, 
the humane treatment of prisoners, the diminution 
of the desire for vengeance by punishment, all 
point to the growth of social feeling and recognition 
of social duty. Such a saying as " A man may do 
what he likes with his own ", prevalent fifty years 
ago, would hardly be asserted now even by the men 
who still act upon it. Such a saying as " My 
country right or wrong ", once considered rather 
fine, and certainly a necessity for the soldier in the 
execution of his duty, is now discredited, and one 
of the most significant signs of the times is, that, 
whenever a country is acting tyrannically to a weaker, 
or exploiting a less advanced race, champions of the 
oppressed are sure to arise in the oppressing country, 
who, shewing themselves true patriots oppose her 
wrong-doing and dishonour. International feeling 
has grown among the mass of the people in all 
countries. Men are beginning to realise that as no 



family can work worthily or gain honour save in the 
service of city or country so no country can find its 
fulfilment save as a part of the one whole to which all 
belong. The League of Nations is one sign of 
this change and the Assembly of the League is an 
attempt at an advising or spiritual power resembling 
in some respects the International Council proposed 
by Comte. 

An extraordinary change has taken place in 
the doctrines of theology, little acknowledged 
but none the less vital. The popular novelists 
have scarcely a lag of theological belief left, yet 
people who consider themselves orthodox read, 
admire and applaud. It sometimes seems as if 
we needed the little child to say, as in the fairy 
tale of the King's beautiful garment : " Why he has 
nothing on". The very dignitaries of the Church 
have long given up belief in doctrines such as that 
of the resurrection of the body, still included in 
the services and creeds. Quite recently a bishop 
had the courage to acknowledge that the belief in 
hell was past, though when he put forward the 
positive doctrine that the fear of injuring others 
should be a sufficient deterrent from sin, he did not 
add that the belief in heaven must also pass away 
for if the bad did not need punishment surely the 
good would not need reward. One curious anomaly 
is seen in the religious teaching of the day. Many 
preachers have thrown aside the magnificent 
conception of supreme sacrifice in Christ Jesus, who 
left the glories of Heaven to suffer for man on earth, 
but have attempted to retain in the individual man 



Jesus all the qualities which have grown up around 
the ideal type through the Christian era. Even the 
finest individual type is not enough. It may suffice 
for private worship, for here the worshipper is 
nearly always of the opposite sex and the heart of 
the worshipper becomes a combination of masculine 
and feminine attributes, but in the public worship 
the symbol must combine the virtues, thoughts and 
powers of all mankind. The energy and wisdom of 
man, the tenderness and wisdom of woman, the 
widely differing forms of excellence of both, 
exhibited in every relation and accident of life can 
be found in no individual man or woman . To 
imagine them in one must result in the unreality 
which it is the aim of the modern man to avoid. 
In the God ideal this mixture was more permissible 
but the tendency was to monstrosity. This was 
largely overcome in the Christian dogma by the 
conception of the Trinity but its inadequacy was 
felt by Saint Bernard who added the Madonna to 
introduce the more strictly feminine element. In 
' Humanity ' all types are of necessity combined. 
Goodwill is growing everywhere but with confused 
thought. Phrases are used without attention to the 
meaning of words or, at any rate, of their 
implication. The phrase " Science and Religion 
are reconciled ", a truth which Comte's life and 
work have triumphantly proved to the extent that 
religion can only embrace the whole of life when it 
is firmly founded on science carried into the highest 
regions, this phrase, loosely used, makes the ordinary 
hearer believe that there has been some discovery 



proving the existence of God, or, in other words, 
that Science and Theology are reconciled, a very 
different proposition and totally untrue. They are 
different ways of accounting for things and can 
only be reconciled as different phases in the history 
of Humanity. As in Comte's day, the mental plan 
is not clear, men have but a confused idea that the 
industrial era is the ideal of the future while they 
constantly turn back to the military ideal of the 
past. We have a vision of the promised land of 
peace and industry founded on human truth and 
love but, like the Israelites in the old legend, many 
turn back to the golden calf of superstition, 
militarism or of hereditary privilege. While the 
superstitious belief in science as an end in itself, 
which was so marked in the iQth century, has 
passed away few have recognised that the solution is 
found in science taking service under love while 
many have returned to more primitive superstitions. 
Men like Sir James Mackenzie have striven to free 
the people from the medical tyranny which results 
from applying the general rule to the particular case 
using the deductive method in an art which especially 
calls for careful observation; everywhere men of 
exceptional insight are adopting the positive method 
in isolated cases but the mental chaos remains. 
This mental attitude is, in default of the complete 
acceptance of the new order, a matter of con- 
gratulation as under it toie dissolving process is 
carried on. The new Liverpool Cathedral, situate 
on a hill not much more than a stone's throw from 
the Temple for the conscious worship of Humanity, 



is a place for spontaneous human worship, the noble 
lives of humble women are recorded in the windows, 
its bishop strives to draw into one fellowship the 
different sects of theology, and, by special services 
for railwaymen and others, begins the festivals 
of the transition. 

The ground of confidence lies in the law of 
human progress <f Man ever grows more religious ", 
discovered by Comte. This is difficult to see 
because the meaning of religious is not under- 
stood. Men compare the modern world with 
the theocracies and with the Middle Age and think 
that religion is dying out, and even comparing 
the present with a generation or two ago, the 
discipline of life and recognition of religious duty 
seems passing away. But religion as Comte defines 
it, consists of harmony within and without, peace 
in the mind and union with our fellows. Harmony 
is the result of the increase of social, and the 
greater control of personal, feelings. This results 
from living together. Modern industry depends in 
a constantly increasing degree on mutual trust, 
there is less room for suspicion and resentment. 
As men from different classes and lands associate 
together and find in all the same kindly feelings, 
the same aspirations, a sense of security and 
confidence grows up. As in a happy family the 
atmosphere is one of fearlessness, wit, humour, 
joyousness and all the sweet flowers of human 
intercourse grow apace, so, as the same confidence 
finds its place in the larger life, as each one feels 
that his fellows will stand by him in misfortune 



and share with him in need, joyousness will be the 
mark of the religious man. It is worthy of notice 
that the two most widely beloved saints in the 
Catholic Church, St. Francis and St. Catherine, 
were distinguished by their gaiety of heart. This 
gaiety is not that of mere exhuberance of youth, 
which may be' accompanied by much selfishness and 
lead to a sombre and discontented age, it is the 
supreme joy of life which results when duty and 
happiness are one. It is a harmony of heart and 
this can only be fully attained when there is also 
a harmony of mind, when feeling, thought and 
action all tend to one centre. The spontaneous 
growth of religion can be clearly seen around us 
and the day is not distant when men will see in 
whom they have believed and will delight to render 
honour where honour is due. When that time shall 
come, as one of our novelists has said, the name of 
Auguste Comte must arise into prominence. And 
when the light of Comte's memory rises on the 
human horizon it will be accompanied by that of 
the mother who first " by her love his love awoke ", 
by that of the fair and delicate spirit who by one 
short year of companionship glorified the whole of 
his after life and by that of the simple noble 
hearted woman who loved and tended him to the 




Cours de Philosophic Positive, 6 tomes 1829-1844 
Catechisme Positimste - - - 1852 

Systkme de Politique Positive , 4 tomes 1851-1854 

Circulates annuelles - 1850-1854 

Synthbse Subjective - - - - 1856 
Appel aux Conservateurs - - - ^55 

Testament^ Prieres, Confessions et 
Correspondance avec Clotilde de 

Vaux 1884 

Lettres a M. Valat - 1870 

Lettres a John Stuart Mill - - - 1877 

Lettres a Divers* 3 tomes - 1902-1905 

Correspondance inedite> 4 tomes - - 1903-1904 
Lettres et Fragments de lettres - - 1927 


Notice sur V&uvre et sur la Vie 
d'Auguste Comte par le Docteur 
Robinet, 2e edition - 1864 

Notice sur la Vie et Vceuvre d* August e 

Comte par /. Longchampt - - 1900 

U Amour euse Histoire d* August e Comte 
et de Clotilde de Vaux par Charles 
de Rouvre 1917 

Religion de VHumanite y Clotilde et 
Comte par R. Teixeira Mendes 9 
4 tomes 1914-1918